Southeast Asian country Malaysia has banned a Malay language translation of the Japanese manga Ultraman after it referred to the hero as “Allah”. The country’s home ministry said that the comic book has elements that can negatively affect the public order and morals, particularly for the young people.
The decision to ban a single edition of the widely popular manga series has provoked ridicule from Malaysian netizens, even as the home ministry emphasized that other Ultraman comic books were not banned. The image containing the controversial line, “He is considered, and respected, as Allah or the Elder to all Ultra heroes,” is making the rounds on social media. Even several government officials are criticizing the move, including Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin who asked, “What wrong did Ultraman do?” Ultraman, a fictional superhero that fights kaijus, or giant monsters, has enjoyed a strong popularity locally, and both the comic books and the anime have already been translated into Malay, but this is the first time that a translation has gotten into trouble.
This is not the only Muslim-related controversy in the country now, as the government is embroiled in a court battle with the Catholic Church over the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims. They have a Printing Presses and Publications Act, which gives authorities the right to ban certain publications, including the Catholic Church, from using “Allah” in any of its publications. While Malaysia is predominantly Muslim, not everyone agrees with this law and it has raised further tensions between Christians and Muslims in the country.