Three churches in Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia, have been firebombed. Muslim extremists are suspected as tensions are running high in the country over the use of the word “Allah”.
A petrol bomb was thrown at the Metro Tabernacle church and attackers also tried to set two other churches ablaze in a nearby suburb. Police also received reports of cars displaying Christian symbols having their windscreens smashed in the suburb of Bangsar.
Hishammuddin Hussein, the Home Minister, appealed for calm and moved to assure religious groups in the country that “they are safe”. “I take the events that happened last night very seriously… we want to assure the public that this was not a co-ordinated and well-planned action.”
Last week, the Malaysian High Court overturned a government ban on non-Muslims using the word “Allah” in their literature, allowing Roman Catholic newsletter The Herald to use the term to refer to God in the Malay language. The government has appealed against the court verdict and the High Court has suspended the decision’s implementation until the appeal is heard.
Protesters at mosques in Kuala Lumpur carried placards reading “Allah is only for us”. “Heresy arises from words wrongly used… I hope the court will understand the feeling of the majority Muslims of Malaysia,” said Ahmad Johari, at the National Mosque. “We can fight to the death over this issue,” he told Associated Press news agency.
The National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF) of Malaysia has condemned the attacks and welcomed the swift action of the police and firefighters. NECF also called on the government to take the necessary steps to educate those who lack understanding and are “easily confused” to be mature minded in a progressive, democratic society.
NECF urged all parties to learn to respect each other‚ basic constitutional and human rights to practise one faith and religion and called on all Christians to pray for the peace and well-being of the nation. (Al Jazeera, BBC, NECF Malaysia)