KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (CNS) — The nation’s inspector general said he would continue investigating a prominent Jesuit under the country’s Sedition Act, but he would not question him again.
Jesuit Father Lawrence Andrew, editor of the Catholic Herald, is under investigation for telling the news portal Malaysian Insider that “Allah” would continue to be used in Malay-language Masses in the state of Selangor, because it is the Arabic word for God.
In November, the sultan of Selangor, who is also the head of Islam in the state, said only Muslims may use the word “Allah.”
The priest’s remarks were published by the news portal Jan. 7; on Jan. 8, the priest was questioned by police after they received dozens of complaints about his remarks. The following day, Malaysian Insider reported that the inspector general was continuing his investigation but would not recall Father Andrew.
The 1948 Sedition Act is designed to prevent acts of discontent, resistance or rebellion against the government and includes as an offense uttering “any seditious words.” It defines as seditious “any act, speech, words, publication or other thing … having a seditious tendency,” which could include promoting “feelings of ill will and hostility between different races or classes of the population of Malaysia.”
For years, the Catholic Herald has been involved in litigation over its use of the word “Allah” to refer to God in its Malay-language edition. In late 2009, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur ruled that the Home Ministry’s order banning certain uses of the word was illegal. The court also said the word “Allah” is not exclusive to Islam.
However, in October, a three-member appeals court said use of “the word Allah is not an integral part of the faith in Christianity. … The usage of the word will cause confusion in the community.” The court ruled the Catholic Herald could not use the word “Allah.”
Kuala Lumpur Archbishop Murphy Pakiam, the paper’s publisher, said the church would appeal the ruling.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103