KUALA LUMPUR: The belief or faith of the Christians in the peninsula in the religion will not be affected even if they do not use the word 'Allah' to refer to their God, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The former prime minister said the Arabic term for God was only a common usage among Christians in Sabah and Sarawak.
"All this while we have never quarrelled about this because they (Christians in the peninsula) never use the word, so why irritate other people, it won't hurt them not to use the word 'Allah'.
"They have never used it before. Those who use it (are) Sabah and Sarawak. There is no objection, but here in the peninsula, why do we want to find a cause to quarrel," he told reporters at the People's Progressive Party (PPP) New Year open house on Wednesday.
Dr Mahathir said the people, regardless of their religion, had managed to live together in peace in the country and that any that annoyed others was not a good thing.
Last Friday, Catholic weekly Herald editor Rev Father Lawrence Andrew, in an article posted by a news portal, said that the Catholic churches in Selangor would continue to use the word Allah in their weekend services in Bahasa Malaysia.
This was despite the State Islamic Religious Department's intention to send them reminders on an enactment prohibiting the use of the word by non-Muslims.
His statement had caused an uproar among various non-governmental organisations, which among others, described Andrew's action as not only challenging the sensitivities of Muslims, but also having no respect for the law. - Bernama