In this photo taken Tuesday, Mar. 16, 2004, Alhousseini Ould Alfadrou, 16, sings verses from crumbling ancient Islamic manuscripts in a mud-walled house in Timbuktu, Mali. Islamist extremists torched a library containing historic manuscripts in Timbuktu, the mayor of the town said Monday, Jan. 28, 2013, while owners have succeeded in removing some of the manuscripts from Timbuktu to save them and others have been carefully hidden away from the Islamists. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
A Malaysian court ruled that a Christian newspaper could not use the word "Allah" to refer to God. The landmark decision came Monday on an issue that has fanned religious tensions and raised questions over minority rights in the predominately Muslim country. The ruling was a unanimous decision in Malaysia's appeals court which overturned a 2009 ruling that allowed the newspaper to use the word.
The chief judge said "Allah" is "not an integral part of the faith in Christianity" and would cause "confusion in the community."
Lawyers for the Catholic paper argued the word predates Islam and was used by Christians in Borneo Island for centuries. Lawrence Andrew, editor of "The Herald," says "God is an integral part of every religion we have. And Allah is a term in the Middle East and in Indonesia it is a term both for Christians and Muslims."
The decision coincides with heightened ethnic and religious tensions in the south east Asian nation after a polarizing may election.
Christians in Indonesia and much of the Arab world continue to use the word without opposition from Islamic authorities. Monday's ruling attracted nearly 200 Muslim supporters who rallied in front of the court, saying they were there to perform their religious duty.