What is God? It’s one of the eternal questions, and it’s front-page news in Malaysia.
A recent court order said the word Allah can only be used by Muslims – and not by members of the country’s other faiths. But Malaysian Prime Minister Najik Razak said Tuesday that Christians in the states of Sabah and Sarawak can continue to refer to God as Allah.
The Star reports that Razak also advised all groups not to politicize the issue “as they will be playing with fire that can eventually burn them.”
At issue is whether The Herald, a Catholic newspaper, can use Allah to describe the Christian God in its Malay-language edition. The court order earlier this month overturned a previous ruling allowing the use of the word. The 2009 ruling led to clashes between Christians and Muslims.
From God to acts of God.
Firefighters in Australia continue to battle massive bushfires in New South Wales.
“This will be as bad as it gets,” Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said. “On days like [this], there’s a very real potential for more loss of homes and life.”
His comments were reported by the Sydney Morning Herald. Here’s more:
“The RFS had warned since the weekend about the potential devastation Wednesday’s weather could cause but the revised forecast on Tuesday was even more worrying, Mr Fitzsimmons said.
“Wednesday would be hotter, drier and windier than the dire predictions previously forecast, posing a grave challenge to one of the largest firefighting contingents assembled in NSW history. They would have to battle an active 1,500-kilometre (920-mile) fire edge in the Blue Mountains where three major fires, one at Bilpin now linked to the second at Mount Victoria and a third at Springwood, burned out of control.”
Reporter Stuart Cohen talked to NPR’s Steven Inskeep about the fires on Tuesday’s Morning Edition. You can listen to their conversation here:
Now to Russia, where news of Monday’s suicide bombing in the southern city of Volgograd continues to make headlines.
ORT Television reports Tuesday that the female suicide bomber arrived in the city on a bus en route to Moscow. The bomber was from Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim republic in the North Caucuses region. It is scene of a long-running Islamist insurgency. The bombing killed six people and wounded about 30.
ORT reported that the bomber was the partner of an Islamist militant.
Finally, a lone bid from Brazil‘s state-owned energy company Petrobras, backed by France’s Total, Anglo-Dutch giant Shell and two Chinese state-run oil firms, has won the right to explore Brazil’s largest oilfield.
The price was lower than expected, and the sale came amid protests from Brazilian oil workers, who accused the government of selling off Brazil’s assets.
But President Dilma Rousseff said the auction doesn’t imply the privatization of Brazilian oil; instead, she called it a “milestone in the history of Brazil.”
Her comments were reported by O Globo.
State-owned Petrobras holds 40 percent of the Libra oil field, which is estimated to have 8 billion to 12 billion barrels of recoverable oil reserves that would last for three decades. Total and Shell own 20 percent each, while China National Offshore Oil Corporation and China National Petroleum Corp will own 10 percent each.
The auction for the Libra field attracted far fewer investors than the Brazilian government had expected.