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Malaysia upholds ban on Christians saying 'Allah'

Malaysia's highest court upheld a ban on Christians saying "Allah," the Arabic name for God, in a highly contested case Monday.

AFP reports that the Catholic church had challenged the ban in an effort to use "Allah" in Catholic newspaper The Herald, citing references to Allah by name in religious literature and Malay-language Bibles. The case spent six years in court and contributed heavily to the nation's religious tension, provoking attacks on Christian churches and eventually two bombings on a Malaysian church in January.

While Christians in Malaysia thought the ruling impacted their religious freedom, the Muslim community, Malaysia's majority religious group, applauded it.

"We must defend 'Allah' because this is our religious obligation. I hope other communities, including Christians, understand this," Ibrahim Ali, head of Muslim rights group Perkasa, told AFP.