The controversy “generated by a small sector of Muslims” in the country is “very disturbing “, Tveit said, especially as “Christians in majority Muslim countries all over the world, including [Malaysia’s] neighbouring country Indonesia, have used the word ‘Allah’ for God for centuries”.
In Arabic, “Allah” means “God”, for Christians and Muslims alike.
Every Sunday, millions of Arabic speaking Christians around the world, hear the word “Allah” in their Sunday liturgies.
The Norwegian general secretary also expressed hope that “immediate action” is taken “by both the government and civil society to resolve the conflict, in order to avoid renewed hostilities and escalation of violence”.
Several church buildings have recently been attacked in Malaysia following a High Court ruling last month allowing non-Muslims to use the word “Allah” to refer to God. Muslim radical groups see this as a Christian subterfuge to win converts from Islam. The government has appealed the High Court decision.
About 9 percent of the Malaysian population are Christians, while Muslims amount to 48 percent. Most non-Muslims are ethnically Indian or Chinese.