An excellent analysis by Professor Marranci, Asso Prof of Anthropology, University of Western Sydney and a research fellow at the Asian Research Institute, NUS, Singapore.
I will post some excerpts here. For the whole article, please read this link:
Recently Malaysia has been at the centre of another controversy. After the fatwa against Yoga (in which it was suggested that Muslims were better to abstain from it), the sentence against Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno (who was condemned to strokes of an “Islamic” cane), and the severed cow heads left on an area awaiting the construction of a Hindu temple, today churches, and other non-Muslim places of worship, have been torched over the issue of whether non-Malay Muslims, and in particular Christians, can use the word ‘Allah’. The Malay government, controlled by UMNO, clearly supports the opinion that “Allah” is, at least linguistically, a Malay Muslim theo-semiotic possession, despite the word being Arabic. Yet to understand the present situation we need to look at how Muslim Malaysians make sense of their social political identity within the country.
To do so we must refer to Article 160 of the Constitution of Malaysia in which a ‘Malay’ is described as a Malaysian citizen, born to a Malaysian citizen, who professes to be a Muslim, habitually speaks Bahasa Melayu, adheres to Malay customs, and is domiciled in Malaysia or Singapore. Furthermore, the constitution, in article 152, defines some privileges for Bumiputra, the Muslim ethnic majority of the country.
read more here.