This is — simultaneously — a manifestation of Islamic supremacism and of insecurity. Malaysia’s Federal Court has acted to ensure that Muslims maintain a dominant position in modern, moderate Malaysia. But this ruling was also designed, in the words of the court itself, to make sure that Muslims don’t convert away from Islam. A religion that needs a death penalty for apostasy and rulings like this to protect it is desperately insecure and afraid of challenges.
“Malaysia’s top court: ‘Allah’ for Muslims only,” by Eileen Ng, Associated Press, June 23, 2014:
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia’s top court ruled Monday that non-Muslims cannot use the word “Allah” to refer to God, delivering the final word on a contentious debate that has reinforced complaints that religious minorities are treated unfairly in the Muslim-majority country.
In a 4-3 judgment, the Federal Court rejected a challenge by the Roman Catholic Church and upheld a government ban on the use of the word. Most Christians in Malaysia worship in English, Tamil or various Chinese dialects, and refer to God in those languages but some Malay-speaking people on Borneo island have no other word for God but “Allah,” a Malay word derived from Arabic.
The church had argued that the ban failed to consider the rights of all minorities in the largely Muslim nation. The lengthy court cases, which began in 2009, had also raised the fundamental question whether freedom of religion guaranteed by the constitution is real.
“We are disappointed. The four judges who denied us the right to appeal did not touch on fundamental basic rights of minorities,” said Rev. Lawrence Andrew, editor of The Herald, the newspaper at the center of the controversy.
“It will confine the freedom of worship,” he said. “We are a minority in this country, and when our rights are curtailed, people feel it.”
The Federal Court ruled that the church had no grounds to appeal last year’s lower court decision that banned the use of “Allah” in the Malay-language weekly. The Catholic Church may ask the court to review the decision, Andrew said.
The government says Allah should be reserved exclusively for Muslims, who make up nearly two-thirds of the country’s 29 million people. If other religions use the term, that could confuse Muslims and lead them to convert away from Islam, it claims….
Can’t have that!