Group seizes Bibles that use word 'Allah,' arrests printing officials

Jan. 2, 2014 at 12:20 PM
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JAKARTA, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- A society that hands out Bibles in Indonesia called for calm Thursday after an Islamic group confiscated about 340 Bibles that used the word "Allah" for "God."

The Bibles were seized from the Bible Society of Malaysia earlier in the day by a team of about 20 police officers and officials with the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS), the Malay Daily Online reported.

BSM President Lee Min Choon and two other officials were later arrested for violating a 1988 state law that prohibits non-Muslims from using the word "Allah" and 34 other Arabic words and phrases.

In a statement, BSM, which prints and distributes Bibles, called on Christians in Selangor "to remain calm and to display their best Christian character and virtues of love and forgiveness in this situation."

Lee told reporters he hoped the federal government would work with JAIS to resolve the issue. He cited an agreement that allowed Christians in East Malaysia to use a Malay-language Bible "without any conditions," while Bibles in West Malaysia had to be imprinted on the cover with the image of a cross and the words, in Malay, "Christian Publication."

Lee said all BSM Bibles are so marked and its shipment reports are regularly inspected by the Home Ministry.

JAIS' newly appointed director said last week he would send letters to all churches in the state asking them to comply with the 1988 law.

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