KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia’s government on Thursday won the right to appeal a court ruling that allows the country’s non-Muslim minority to use the word “Allah” to refer to God.
Appeal hearings are scheduled to start Sept. 10 to resolve the politically sensitive dispute that triggered attacks on Malaysian churches and other places of worship more than three years ago.
“Allah” is the Arabic word for God and is commonly used in the Malay language to refer to God.
The government, however, insists “Allah” is an Islamic word and that its use by others would confuse Muslims.
Roman Catholic representatives say the government’s curb on their use of “Allah” is unreasonable because Christians who speak the Malay language had long also used the word to refer to God in their Bibles, literature and songs before authorities sought to enforce the ban in recent years.
A nearly 6-year-old court dispute over the issue stems from efforts by the newspaper of the Roman Catholic Church in Malaysia to use “Allah” in its Malay-language publication.
Malaysia’s Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that the government has the right to challenge a 2009 verdict by a lower court that permitted the newspaper to use “Allah.”