Monday, 11 April 2011

Kuala Lumpur Loves a Never Ending Story: Bibles stamped 'Christian Publication' in Malaysia

By Agence France-Presse, Updated: 4/10/2011

Bibles stamped 'Christian Publication' in Malaysia

Thousands of Malay-language bibles impounded over their use of the word "Allah" are to be stamped "Christian Publication" in a bid to end a row with Muslims, the government said Sunday.

More than 35,000 bibles have been confiscated in the past two years after objections from Islamic leaders that Allah should not be used by non-Muslims.

The holy books were later offered for release but most of them had already been stamped with serial numbers, government seals and the words "For Christians Only", an act that Christians said amounted to "desecration".

Idris Jala, a minister in the Prime Minister's Department, said that under a new deal with Christians, bibles headed for Sabah and Sarawak state on Borneo island, which are majority Christian, would be returned without any form of official marking and those already marked would have the stamping revoked.

However, the 5,100 holy books imported by The Bible Society of Malaysia for use on the mainland, will now be re-stamped with the phrase "Christian Publication" and the symbol of the Cross, overwriting the earlier markings.

The society accepted the deal, saying "it deeply appreciated" the government plan.

The holy books were seized by customs officials after the government said the use of "Allah" as a translation for "God" in the Malay-language could encourage conversion, which is illegal for the country's Muslims.

The "Allah" row is one of a string of religious disputes that have erupted in recent years, straining relations between majority Malays and minorities who fear the country is being "Islamised".

Malaysia's Christians, who make up nine percent of the population and many from indigenous groups in Borneo who speak the national language Malay, say they have used the word without incident for centuries.

Source: MSN News

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