Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Malaysian police have arrested eight youths on suspicion of burning of a church in the capital, the first in a series of attacks on Christian places of worship.
Bakri Zinin, chief of federal police investigator said that young people, 21 to 26 years, "are suspected of being involved in the criminal fire of the Metro Tabernacle Church”. The building, which belongs to the Assembly of God community, is located on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. On January 8, some people threw stones and incendiary objects at the building resulting in serious damage. Bakri Zinin also stated that the investigation will determine whether the young people themselves are linked to other attacks.
In recent weeks, there were 10 other attacks against churches and places of worship in Malaysia after the one at Metro Tabernacle. The series of violence seems to have been unleashed after the High Court decision to allow non-Muslims to use the word "Allah" to define "God", on 31 December. This has caused the anger of local Islamic groups that defend the exclusive use of the word for Islam, accusing other religions (including Christians) of aiming to subtly proselytize. In fact the word "Allah" is commonly used by Christians throughout the Middle East and Indonesia. In Malaysia there is evidence of the Christian use of the term since the 17th century. The government supports the Islamic groups and has declared its intention to appeal against the decision of the court.According to analysts, government support to fundamentalist groups has electoral purposes. By aligning itself with them the majority party, the Umno, hopes to have more electoral support. The Islamic opposition party, Pas, advocates the use of speech for Christians and Jews.
A multiethnic country, Malaysia has about 25 million inhabitants. The majority is Malay and Muslim (60%). Then there are Chinese (25%) and Indians (8%). The Christians are 10%, Catholics 3.17%.