Malaysia priest insists ban on Christian use of 'Allah' limited only to newspaper and excludes church practices

Muslim demonstrators gathered outside court during the initial ruling in October 2013.Reuters

One Catholic priest in Malaysia continues to insist on the use of "Allah" to refer to the Christian God while conducting Catholic worship services.

According to the World Watch Monitor, Rev. Lawrence Andrew and his lawyers are resolute that the recent ruling on the Catholic Church's use of the word "Allah" in a Christian context is limited only to the Herald in Malaysia, a Catholic weekly newspaper in which Andrew serves as editor.

"I brought this case. It only applies to the Herald," the WWM quoted the priest as saying.

"We will not entertain them," he added, referring to attempts by Islamic religious groups who want the ruling to apply also to the use of the name in actual worship by Malaysian Christians.

Malaysian police are currently investigating the priest after he insisted that Catholic churches in Selangor state could continue to use Allah in Holly Mass, the WWM reports.

The priest was embroiled in a lengthy legal battle that began in 2009 when the Malaysian government, through the Home Ministry, prevented the Catholic newspaper from using the word "Allah" to refer to the Christian God in the Herald. The Home Ministry's ban was challenged by Andrew and other church leaders but a lower court ruled in October 2013 to uphold the ban.

Andrew then took the case to Federal Court, which finally ruled on January 21 that the High Court's decision would be upheld, effectively banning the Herald from using the name in future publications.

Despite the loss in court, Rev. Andrew remained optimistic and said that the Herald would continue to be published but stop using the word Allah as mandated by the court.

He believes that the country benefited from the legal battle even though he lost.

"The judgments will speak volumes and the court procedures will show what transpired. I'm happy it is all in the open," he told the WWM.