01/08/2010, 00.00
MALAYSIA
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Malaysia: Four Christian churches attacked over controversy on the use of "Allah"

Three Protestant places of worship, and one Catholic in the sights of Islamic fundamentalists. The offices of Metro Tabernacle Church damaged. Cars owned by Catholics vandalised. The director of the Catholic weekly Herald confirms "pressure" on government and judiciary to "cancel the Supreme Court ruling."

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews) - "There is no immediate danger, but the situation is still worrying." This was the comment reported to AsiaNews by Fr Lawrence Andrew, editor of the Catholic weekly Herald, on last night’s attack of "three Protestant and one Catholic church ". The priest also confirms "a national propaganda campaign" of the Muslim majority, so that "the name of Allah can only be used to refer to the God of Islam."

Around midnight on Wednesday an explosion damaged the administrative offices of Metro Tabernacle Church, a Protestant church in Kuala Lumpur. Three other Christian places of worship, including the Catholic Church of the Assumption in Petaling Jaya, were also attacked. The assailants threw a Molotov cocktail inside the building, which caused minimal damage. Fr. Lawrence reported that in addition to places of worship some "cars owned by Catholics” were attacked, with “bodywork damaged and broken windows, but there are no injuries."  

The anger of the fundamentalist wing in the country was unleashed by the December 31st decision by High Court judges allowing Christians to use the word "Allah" in reference to God contrary to the government ban.  The government has announced it will appeal the ruling.  Today a protest rally, sponsored by 58 Muslim NGOs, was held on the streets of the capital which was attended by about 300 people.  

"There have been no reports of incidents during the protest  - confirmed Fr Lawrence to AsiaNews - because the police did a good job. The security forces have are committed to keeping the peace and preventing calm an escalation of violence".  The priest said that there is a campaign of propaganda in Malaysia that seeks to "put pressure on the Government": Islam is the state religion, it must maintain a dominant position and the rules must be in accord with Islamic law.  

 "We are worried - says the priest - but the situation is not dangerous as of yet. We have established close cooperation with the government to help restore peace in the country”.  In order to avoid further violence, Fr. Lawrence confirms that "we will not use the word Allah in the editions of our newspaper until the judiciary issues the final ruling."  

"Today the TV has broadcast the Friday prayers all over the country - concluded the priest - During the sermon it was repeated several times that Allah is the God of Muslims and they alone can use it. It is an attempt to put pressure on judges, to cancel the ruling of the High Court. With a climate like this, it is not possible to carry out a fair and just trial. "(DS)

 

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