What's the Latest Development?

The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, one of Malaysia's most conservative religious parties, has offered a correction to a statement made by a spokesman this past Christmas asking that Christians refrain from using the word "Allah" to describe their god. The party's leader affirmed their official stance, originally made in 2010, which respects non-Muslims' rights to use the word, including in certain so-called "Allah bibles." According to a related article in The Malaysian Insider, the Roman Catholic Church is still engaged in a legal battle over its right to use "Allah" in its weekly newspaper.

What's the Big Idea?

Because the country's culture and language are so heavily influenced by Islam, many Malay Christians find it natural to describe their god by the Arabic word "Allah." However, Malay Muslims disagreed, saying that the word should be reserved only for followers of Islam. This set off a dispute that escalated in 2010 when the courts ruled in the Christians' favor, causing the torching of some churches. The controversy arose again in 2011, when customs officials prevented the import of translated Bibles containing the word, and allowed them in only when "FOR CHRISTIANS" stickers were put on their covers.

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