Three churches attacked
KUALA LUMPUR: Three churches in Malaysia were attacked with firebombs, causing extensive damage to one, as Muslims pledged yesterday to prevent Christians from using the word “Allah”, escalating religious tensions in the multiracial country.
Many Malay Muslims, who make up 60 percent of the population, are incensed by a recent high court decision to overturn a ban on Roman Catholics using “Allah” as a translation for God in the Malay-language edition of their main newspaper, the Herald.
The government says Allah, an Arabic word that predates Islam, is exclusive to the faith and by extension to Malays. It refuses to make an exception, even though the Herald’s Malay edition is read only by Chris- tian indigenous tribes in the remote states of Sabah and Sarawak.
At Friday prayers at two main mosques in downtown Kuala Lumpur, young worshippers carried banners and gave fiery speeches, vowing to defend Islam.
“We will not allow the word Allah to be inscribed in your churches,” one speaker shouted into a loudspeaker at the Kampung Bahru mosque. About 50 other people carried posters reading “Heresy arises from words wrongly used” and “Allah is only for us”.
“Islam is above all. Every citizen must respect that,” said Ahmad Johari, who attended prayers at the National Mosque.
“We can fight to the death over this issue.” – Sapa-AP