Vatican envoy apologises to Malaysia over ‘Allah’ row
KUALA LUMPUR - Agence France-Presse
AP PhotoThe Vatican’s first-ever envoy to Malaysia has apologized for supporting the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims after he was summoned by the foreign minister.
Archbishop Joseph Marino issued a statement late July 16, after meeting with Foreign Minister Anifah Aman, saying his comments were “never intended as an attempt to intrude into the internal affairs of the country.”
Marino, who arrived in Kuala Lumpur less than six months ago, had waded into a religious row in Muslim-majority Malaysia over the use of the word “Allah.”
He described arguments put forward by the Catholic Church in an ongoing court battle for the right to translate “God” as “Allah” in Malay-language Bibles and other literature as “logical and acceptable.” Soon after, hard-line Muslim groups began calling for him to be sent home. Several cabinet ministers also accused him of “interference.”
Controversy over the use of the word “Allah” came to a head three years ago, when the High Court ruled that non-Muslims are allowed to use the word to refer to God in their Malay-language literature. The court case arose after Malaysia’s Catholic Church sued the government for banning the use of the word in its weekly newspaper, The Herald.