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BM Edition Of Catholic Paper Banned: Editor

KUALA LUMPUR: A Catholic newspaper has been ordered by the government to cease its Malay language edition until courts resolve a ban on the paper's use of the word "Allah", its editor said Thursday.

The Herald newspaper editor Father Lawrence Andrew said the move was part of a series of restrictions put in place by the conservative Muslim government when it renewed the paper's licence on Tuesday.

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 it should only be used by Muslims.

"The Constitution says Malay is the national language so why can't we use the national language in Malaysia?" he told AFP.

He called the ban "unacceptable" and said he intended to take action.

Andrew said the ban did not make any sense because a large proportion of Catholics in Malaysia are bumiputra who mainly speak Malay.

"More than 50 percent of our congregation are bumiputra and two of our bishops are bumiputra," he added.

The issue will be decided by the courts next month, while home ministry officials told the New Straits Times daily Thursday they will be monitoring the paper's actions closely.

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 are mostly ethnic Chinese and Indians--practising Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism. (AFP)

MySinchew 2009.01.01



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