Sometimes, semantics is just semantics. And sometimes semantics gets your church burned down and your Bible impounded.
In the Malay language, the word for "God" -- even the Christian God -- is "Allah."
But many fundamentalist Muslims in Malaysia believe "Allah," a word borrowed from Arabic, shouldn't be shared with other faiths.
Some feel so strongly about the word that, when courts ruled Malaysian Christians could use it to describe their God in 2009, churches were torched. (And, in retalitaion, so were a few Muslim prayer halls.)
Now the "Allah" debate is back on in Malaysia. Despite the court ruling, the government recently confiscated imports of more than 35,000 Malay-language Bibles. Officials were worried the books, which use "Allah" to describe God, would offend Muslims and possibly be used to deceive and convert them. (Religious conversion in Malaysia is actually a crime.)
As the Malaysia Star reports, officials have arrived at a compromise. They'll stamp "FOR CHRISTIANITY" in Arial font, 16 point type, right on the cover. And from now on, they say, all Bibles brought into the country must bear the same stamp.
Malay Christians, which make up roughly nine percent of the country, say they're "fed up" with being badgered over their use of the word. Their books are now "desecrated," they say.