For Allah’s sake

By Jacqueline Ann Surin, The Nut Graph

WHEN the Home Ministry forbids a non-Muslim group from saying "Allah", then attempts to prevent it from publishing in Malay, the government is imposing more than a ban.

In both instances, the Barisan Nasional (BN)-led government is forcefully applying exclusivity for both the pre-Islamic name for the Almighty and the national language. The BN does not seem to see that more inclusive use of "Allah" and the national language are actually opportunities to unite Malaysians.

Divisive fear

What strikes me the most about the government's insistence on restricting the use of the word "Allah" by non-Muslims is sharp, irrational fear.

Fear that Malay-Muslims in Malaysia may lose their faith and flock instead to other faiths that also have the same name for the Almighty. Fear that perchance, the state has one less area where it can control Malay-Muslim thought and experience about diversity and similarities in different cultures and faiths in Malaysia.