Racial violence is increasing over a controversial court ruling allowing a Roman Catholic newspaper to use the word "Allah" to describe God.Some Muslims in Malaysia argue that "Allah" is exclusive to Islam, and its use by Christians is wrong. But church officials say Arabic-speaking Christians have always used the term "Allah" to refer to God.
They say it is unreasonable and unconstitutional to proclaim the word "Allah" should not be used by Christians.
The debate has been ongoing for months. But it got violent on Friday when four churches, in separate incidents, were attacked. The violence has since escalated. While the government condemned the attacks, it will still attempt to have the decision to allow the newspaper to use the word "Allah" overturned.
But what are the causes of Muslims' anger? And what are the implications for the already strained ethnic harmony in this Asian country?Inside Story presenter Nick Clark is joined by Khairul Faiz Morat, the vice president of international affairs of the Malaysian Islamic Youth Movement, Reverend Herman Shastri, the general secretary of the Council of Churches of Malaysia, and Zachary Abuza, a professor of political science at Simmons College specialising in the politics of Southeast Asia.
This episode of Inside Story aired from Monday, January 11.
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