Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Malaysia rejects call to release 10,000 Bibles

JULIA ZAPPEI
Associated Press/KUALA LUMPUR

The Malaysian government has refused to release 10,000 Bibles confiscated for using the word "Allah" to refer to God, a banned translation in Christian texts in this Muslim-majority country, an official said Wednesday.
An official from the Home Ministry's publications unit said the government rejected pleas by church officials to allow the Bibles, imported from Indonesia, into the country. Christians say the Muslim Malay-dominated government is violating their right to practice their religion freely.
Such religious disputes are undermining Malaysia's reputation as a harmonious multiethnic, moderate Muslim nation. About 30 percent of the country's 28 million people practice Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism or other faiths.
A Home Ministry official said the government told the importer last month to return the Indonesian-language Bibles, which are still with customs.
"Actually the publications, the Bibles are already banned," said the official, refusing to elaborate. He declined to be named because he is not authorized to make public statements.
The Bibles contain the word "Allah," which is banned by the government for use by non-Muslims in an apparent bid to appease Muslims.
Church officials say the word "Allah" has been used for centuries to refer generally to God in both Indonesian and Malaysian languages, which are similar. The Roman Catholic Church is challenging the ban in court.
The government maintains that the Arabic-origin word "Allah" is an Islamic word and its use by Christians and others will upset Muslims.
Another 5,100 Bibles, also imported from Indonesia, were confiscated in March and have not been released. But the ministry official did not immediately have any information on those.
The Christian Federation of Malaysia, which had called for the release of all Bibles, described the seizure as "ridiculous and offensive."
"This constitutional right (to practice freely) is rendered illusory if Christians in Malaysia are denied access to Bibles in a language with which they are familiar," the federation's chairman Bishop Ng Moon Hing said in a statement.
He also rejected concerns that Bibles in the Malaysian language, or Bahasa Malaysia, containing "Allah," will upset Muslims.
"Bibles in Bahasa Malaysia have been used since before the independence of our country and have never been the cause of any public disorder," he said. Malaysia gained independence in 1957.

AP 1.00 -- NOV 4, 2009 13:12:43

Monday, November 02, 2009

British band's singer thanks wrong country in Peru

AP/LIMA, Peru

Pity the Peruvian rocker.
For the third time in recent years a visiting foreign pop star has belted out thanks to the wrong country.
In a concert in Peru's capital Tuesday, the lead singer of British band Depeche Mode shouted "Thank you very much, Chile!" to 30,000 screaming fans. Most didn't notice Dave Gahan's slip but a video of the concert was posted on Youtube.
The country choice was particularly rankling since Peru and Chile are historically enemies with a dispute dating to a 1879-84 war between the South American neighbors.
In 2004, Mayte of the Mexican pop band RBD yelled out "Long live Chile!" in a Lima concert. She immediately apologized.
In 2003, Canadian singer Alanis Morissette yelled out "Thank you, Brazil."

OCT 15, 2009

Cheeky Vettel pops the question as Button squirms


Alan Baldwin
Reuters/ABU DHABI

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel played cheeky schoolboy to a grown-up Jenson Button on Sunday as an end-of-term atmosphere swept the Formula One paddock.
"I hear you are getting married," the 22-year-old Red Bull driver, with a prankster's grin on his face, said to the world champion as they sat together in a news conference after the first day-to-night race.
"Are you proposing?" replied Button, who finished third for champions Brawn in the season-ending race under floodlights at Yas Marina.
"I heard you will get married," clarified the German, who has already built up a reputation as a lover of English humour and practical jokes.
"You know, they write great things in the press. Thank you for that one Seb," said the 29-year-old Button, who wrapped up the title in Brazil last month, with a pained look.
"But I am going to enjoy this, as we often look too far into the future and I want to just enjoy this moment and then I will look to the future after that."
Button has been accompanied to most races this season by his Japanese-Argentine lingerie model girlfriend Jessica Michibata, with some British tabloids already wondering when he will pop the question.
Vettel refused to let the subject drop when asked later what he would be doing over the long break before testing starts up again in February. "Jenson's getting married. So he's busy," he shot back.
Australian Mark Webber, second in a Red Bull one-two finish, interjected: "And we're all invited as well, everyone. But Japan's a long way, isn't it?"
Button, whose immediate task is to fly to Beijing for the Race of Champions at the Bird's Nest Stadium in midweek before heading on to Japan for a vacation, refused to be drawn further on his love life despite continued probing.
"What's the date of the wedding, Jenson?" asked a newspaper reporter.
"I'm not getting married this year," said Button.
"You don't love her?" inquired Vettel in a voice full of mock concern.
"I think some things need to be kept private in life, and that's one of them," replied the Briton.

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