KL acts to cool Bible seizure controversy

KL acts to cool Bible seizure controversy
A Catholic priest, Michael Chua (C) holds roses as he poses for pictures with Malaysian activists in front of the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes during a rally in solidarity after Malaysian Islamic authorities seized hundreds of Bibles from a Christian group over the use of the word "Allah" in Klang, outside Kuala Lumpur on January 5, 2014.

KUALA LUMPUR - The Malaysian government has moved to cool the controversy over the seizure of Bibles with the word "Allah" in them, while Selangor Umno called off its planned protest at a church on Sunday.

This came after a public backlash over the Selangor Islamic authorities' seizure of 350 Bibles in the Malay and Iban languages last Thursday, which brought to a boil the simmering controversy over whether Christians can use "Allah" to refer to the Christian God.

After the Bar Council, the government's Human Rights Commission, several opposition leaders and many Malaysians criticised the raid on the Bible Society as unconstitutional, some government officials appeared to be doing damage control.

Several officials from the Prime Minister's Department met Bible Society leaders on Friday, and promised to try to resolve the matter.

"We are leaving it to them to do so," Bible Society general secretary Simon Wong told The Star newspaper.

Meanwhile, Selangor Umno chairman Noh Omar said yesterday the party had called off a demonstration outside a church in Klang, about 25km from Kuala Lumpur, initially planned for today.

The Klang police also gave an assurance to Mr Charles Santiago, the opposition MP for Klang, that security measures would be in place to protect parishioners of Our Lady of Lourdes church.

"We do not support anyone who takes part in protests in front of places of worship. We, Selangor Umno, are only dissatisfied with Father Lawrence Andrew," Datuk Noh told The Star, referring to the editor of Catholic weekly, Herald.

"We do not want this to spiral into a heated religious war and create unwanted tension. Why must we disturb other Christians and priests because of one man who does not understand the law?"

Father Andrew, a priest, had reportedly said Christians can use "Allah", even after Malaysia's Court of Appeal ruled last year that the word cannot be used by the Herald to refer to the Christian God.

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