(Photo: Flickr / Davidlohr Bueso)
A Malaysian court has banned The Herald newspaper in Malaysia from using the word "Allah," a term for "God" used by Muslims.
The publication is Christian and is published in the Malay language, a native dialect of the region.
The unanimous decision by three judges of a Malaysian court of appeal canceled a lower court decision in 2009, which allowed the newspaper to use the word "Allah" as a Christian reference to God as it has been used for centuries in Malaysia.
"The usage of the word Allah is not an integral part of the faith in Christianity," Chief Judge Mohamed Apandi said. "The use of this word will cause confusion in the community."
The government argued in its case that "the word 'Allah' is limited to Muslims, and that the decision of the Minister of the Interior in 2008 to prevent giving permission to print the newspaper was justified on the basis of public order."
The Herald's lawyers insisted that the word "Allah" was used before Islam, and Malay-speaking Christians used it widely in a part of the island of Borneo centuries ago. The newspaper is expected to challenge the verdict before the highest courts of Malaysia.