World Watch Monitor, 17 March 2021
A Malaysian woman’s campaign for Christians’ right to use the word “Allah” for “God” has succeeded after almost 13 years of court hearings and delays.
Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill has campaigned for the right to use the word since immigration officials at a Kuala Lumpur airport seized 8 Christian CDs from her in May 2008 because they used the word “Allah” in a Christian context.
After a 7-year legal battle, Ireland was given back the CDs in 2015, but maintained that the court had failed to address her constitutional right as a Christian to use the word.
In October 2017, her lawyer noted that 60% of Malaysia’s Christians speak the Bahasa Malaysia (‘language of Malaysia‘), which uses “Allah” for “God”. The word (which predates Islam) has been used by local Christians for hundreds of years, since Europeans first spread the religion, long before Malaysia even came into existence.
He said Christians were never consulted when in 1986 the country banned Christians from using the word, and that the government’s blanket ban was unconstitutional and discriminatory.
The Court of Appeals judge Nor Bee ruled in Ireland’s favour that the 1986 directive by the Home Ministry to prohibit Christians from using four ‘prohibited’ words, including ‘Allah’, was not a blanket ban.