Fresh dispute over use of 'Allah' after raid on Bible group

Fresh dispute over use of 'Allah' after raid on Bible group
Mr Lee Min Choon, president of the Bible Society of Malaysia.

KUALA LUMPUR - A festering controversy over the use of the word "Allah" by Christians burst into the open again yesterday after the Islamic authorities in Selangor raided the premises of a Christian group and seized hundreds of Malay and Iban-language Bibles.

Two top officials of the group were taken in for questioning.

Police said the editor of the Catholic weekly newsletter, The Herald, Father Lawrence Andrew, would also be questioned for allegedly urging Christians to keep using "Allah" for church services in Malay.

The controversy, which has been bubbling since 2009, is still pending before the courts, with the church appealing against the latest ruling on the matter.

The Court of Appeal in October overturned a High Court ruling that the Home Ministry's ban on The Herald using "Allah" was unconstitutional.

More than a dozen enforcement officers from the Selangor Islamic Religious Department, better known by its acronym Jais, accompanied by two police officers, entered the Bible Society of Malaysia's office in Petaling Jaya yesterday and seized several religious publications.

They took 321 Malay Bibles, known as "Al-Kitab", 10 "Bup Kudus" - the Iban version of the Bible - which contains the word "Allah-ta'ala", meaning "Lord God", and 20 Malay versions of the Luke Gospel, all of which were imported from Indonesia.

The society, which holds the copyright for the books, regularly sends them to Christian churches in Sarawak.

The Singapore Bible Society also buys them periodically from Malaysia.

The society's president, Mr Lee Min Choon, and its secretary-general Simon Wong, were also questioned at a nearby police station.

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