Catholic newspaper threatens action against Malaysia govt
AFP - 2 hours 46 minutes ago
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 2, 2009 (AFP) - A Catholic newspaper Friday threatened legal action against Malaysia's government after being told to stop publishing its Malay language edition in a row over its use of the word "Allah."
The Herald, circulated among the country's 850,000 Catholics, nearly lost its publishing licence last year for using the word "Allah" as a translation for "God," with authorities saying "Allah" should be used only by Muslims.
Now the newspaper has been told it must stop publishing its Malay edition while the issue is resolved in the courts, as part of conditions for it to be allowed to continue printing its editions in English, Chinese and Tamil.
Murphy Pakiam, the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur and publisher of the weekly newspaper, said in a letter to the home ministry that it had seven days to revoke its decision or face legal action.
He said he was "totally perplexed" over the suspension which "reeks of ill will and bad faith" and was effectively a punishment for the legal battle that is due to be settled next month.
"We are therefore advised and verily believe that this condition constitutes a serious violation of our constitutional freedom of expression and speech," he said in the letter, a copy of which has been obtained by AFP.
Religion and language are sensitive issues in multiracial Malaysia, which experienced deadly race riots in 1969.
About 60 percent of the nation's 27 million people are ethnic Malay Muslims, who dominate the government.
The rest of the population includes indigenous tribes as well as ethnic Chinese and Indians -- practising Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism, among others.
The Herald's editor, Father Lawrence Andrew, has said that more than half Malaysia's Catholics are from indigenous groups, most of whom live on the Borneo island states and who mainly speak Malay.
Recommend this article
Average (1 vote)
Sign in to recommend this article »
Most Recommended Stories »
Related Articles: Asia Pacific
Sri Lanka says troops have captured rebel capitalAP - 31 minutes ago
M’sia wants to work with S’pore to boost regional tourismChannel NewsAsia - 33 minutes ago
Survivors recall horror of Bangkok blaze as mourners prayAFP - 48 minutes ago
Sri Lanka says troops captured rebel capitalAP - 53 minutes ago
MINDEF employees, SAF active servicemen insured for $100,000Channel NewsAsia - 58 minutes ago
Most Popular – Asia Pacific
Rare Bugatti untouched for 50 years could fetch millions: report
NASA describes final moments of Columbia tragedy
Hamas defiant as Israel rejects Gaza truce
Actress Jennifer Aniston appears naked in GQ magazine
Japanese tourist spends 3 months in Mexico City airport
View Complete List »