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Indonesia on use of the word 'Allah'

In the latest development in the Malaysian court case on the use of the word ‘Allah’, the Court of Appeal overturned the decision of the lower court and decided that non-Muslims could not use the word ‘Allah’.


From a comparative perspective, Indonesia provides a different example on this issue. As I discuss in chapter 6 of my book on Law and Religion in Indonesia, the use of the word ‘Allah’ has not been a cause of controversy between Muslims and Christians in Indonesia. Instead, there have been discussions and debates within the Christian community itself about whether it is more appropriate to use the term ‘Allah’, ‘Tuhan’ or ‘Yahweh’ for God. 

For example, in 2007, the Indonesian Bible Society was brought to court by an individual who disagreed with the use of the word ‘Allah’. The applicant attempted to argue that the Indonesian Bible Society should translate the word for God in the Indonesian translation of the bibles it prints using the term ‘Tuhan’ rather than the term ‘Allah’. Given the lack of any clear legal basis or argument for the applicant's claim, the case was dismissed by the court.

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