More Malaysia churches attacked
Attacks against Christian buildings spread amid row over use of "Allah" by non-Muslims.
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2010 01:12 GMT

The Metro Tabernacle church in Kuala Lumpur has been the worst hit so far [AFP]

More churches in Malaysia have been attacked amid tensions over a court ruling that a Christian newsletter could use "Allah" to refer to God.

Hishammuddin Hussein, the home minister, was quoted by state news agency Bernama as saying that "the situation is under control and the people should not be worried".

But the attacks, which started in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, on Friday, appear to be spreading, with at least eight churches and one Catholic school targeted so far in the Muslim majority nation.

On Sunday, a Molotov cocktail was hurled at the All Saints church in Taiping town in central Perak state early in the morning before it opened, said Zulkifli Abdullah, the state police chief.

He said police found burn marks on the wall but there was no damage to the building.

Nearby, a petrol bomb was thrown at a guard house of a Catholic convent school, but did not explode, police said.

Also in Taiping, which is about 300km from the capital, a broken kerosene bottle with an unlit wick was found early on Sunday inside the compound of the St Louis Catholic church, church officials and the police said.

In southern Malacca state, the outer wall of the Malacca Baptist church was splashed with black paint, police said.

And attackers hurled bricks and stones at glass windows of the Good Shepherd Catholic church in Miri - a major logging and oil town in East Malaysia's Sarawak state, police and church officials said.

Earlier attacks

Muslim groups have protested against the use of the word 'Allah' by non-Muslims [AFP]
Four churches were hit by petrol bombs on Friday and Saturday, with the Metro Tabernacle church in the capital worst hit, the first level of its three-storey building gutted by fire.

No one has been hurt in the attacks so far and all the churches aside from Metro Tabernacle have suffered minor damage.

Police also received reports of cars displaying Christian symbols having their windscreens smashed in the capital on Saturday.

And police received a complaint on Saturday that a stone had been thrown at a glass door of a Muslim prayer room known as a surau, in the port town of Klang, said Khalid Abu Bakar, the police chief of Selangor state where three of the churches were attacked.

But he said rumours of attacks on a mosque were unfounded.

'Allah' controversy

A Malaysian court had on December 31 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.

Thousands of Christians showed up for worship services on Sunday despite the attacks [AFP]
The judge has since suspended the implementation of the ruling, after the government appealed and the Roman Catholic church agreed to the suspension.

Muslim groups held protests after prayers on Friday against the court overturning the "Allah" ban.

Muslims in Malaysia argue that the "Allah" is exclusive to Islam, and its use by Christians would confuse Muslims.

But Catholic church officials say that for Christian indigenous tribes in East Malaysia, who are the main readers of the Herald's Malay-language edition, "Allah" is the only word they have known for God for decades.

Despite the attacks and tensions, thousands of Malaysian Christians, which make up about nine per cent of Malaysia's 26 million population, turned up for worship services on Sunday.

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