29 July 2016
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  • mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato

    » 01/27/2014, 00.00


    Molotov cocktails and banners against churches. Malaysian priest warns of escalating sectarian divisions

    Two rudimentary bombs hurled at the Church of the Assumption in Padang overnight, only one exploded but caused no casualties or injuries. Yesterday derogatory banners hung outside three churches in the area . Fr. Lawrence : Catholics must be free to worship. Even Malaysia at risk of Islamization

    Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews) - Two men on a motorcycle threw two Molotov cocktails at the church of the Assumption in Penang last night, only one of which exploded without causing serious damage or injuries . However, the gesture adds to concerns about a possible escalation of tensions between the Muslim majority and the Catholic community , already heightened by the controversy concerning the use of the word " Allah " to describe the Christian God.

    The attack is reminiscent of the wave of sectarian violence that hit the country in 2010, with dozens of churches and other places of worship (whether Christian or not) the target of terrorist attacks or acts of vandalism. The bomb attacks followed derogatory banners appearing outside three different churches in Penang with the inscription: "Allah is great, Jesus is the son of Allah." So far no one has claimed responsibility for the act, which has raised outrage among religious leaders in the area.

    Local sources believe it is an attempt to provoke Christians using the tactic of "reverse psychology".

    Malaysian police have opened an investigation into the events of yesterday and last night. The Interior Minister Ahmad Zahid is appealing for calm and hopes that "Christian and Muslim" leaders are able to maintain control and prevent further violence. "I invite each of you, individuals or groups - he added - not to give in to these provocative acts. What matters is harmony between religions".

    The attack on the church and the provocative banners come in the wake of renewed controversy over the use of the word "Allah" for non-Muslims, which began following the confrontation - that ended up in a court case - between the editor of the Catholic weekly, the Herald, and the government. Last October, a judgment of the Court of Appeal effectively denied the Catholic weekly directed by Fr . Lawrence the right to print the word "Allah" when describing the Christian God.  The priest then requested to appeal the sentence.  In Malaysia, out of a population of more than 28 million people, the majority (60 per cent) are Muslim, followed by Buddhists. Christians constitute the third largest group numbering around 2.6 million. A few years ago, a 400-year-old Latin-Malay dictionary was re-issued. It shows that Allah was used in the Bible as the word for God in the local language.

    Meanwhile, Fr. Lawrence is returning to the fray after a brief period of silence following his police interrogation of 7 January by the police and a possible indictment . In a lengthy interview Eglise d'Asie ( EDA ), the 68-year old priest said that the controversy is indicative of a "radicalization " of Malaysian society in place since the 70's and which was intensified in the recent past. The "racial" or "ethnic" divisions have become "a way of life , a very common way of being in the country." In this context, he adds, "it is better not to talk about religion" and it is no longer even customary for Muslims to wish Christians "Merry Christmas".

    In view of the hearing on 5 March , Fr. Lawrence anticipates that "the verdict will be respected ," but the central point is that "Catholics in Malaysia should be able to continue to celebrate and pray in the Malay language".

    Similarly, the Bible must continue to be printed in the local language, called "Al- Kitab " (The Book , ed.) .  In fact, Christians are banned from using 35 words of "common use", and this impediment "constitutes a blatant violation of religious freedom" guaranteed by the Constitution but disregarded in practice. In Malaysia, as in other parts of the world, there is a radical growth of extremist Islam and the youth of the minorities are increasingly encouraged to emigrate, to find greater space (and freedom) in more tolerant societies. "mong the Muslim-majority nations and in comparison with what is happening in the Middle East - said the priest - Malaysia is no exception in this respect".


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    See also

    28/12/2007 MALAYSIA
    Catholic weekly denounces government for banning Christians from using the world “Allah”
    The Minister for Security blocks the Malay language editions and buries publication permission for the only Catholic newspaper. It also stops the importation of Protestant books which use the word “Allah”. Its use outside Islam is considered a “very sensitive” issue.

    14/10/2013 MALAYSIA
    Malaysia , Christians banned from using "Allah ". Catholics announce appeal
    This morning the appeals court ruled that the word be “exclusively" used by Muslims . The director of "Malaysia Herald", Fr. Lawrence, expresses " disappointment and shock " and announces appeal to the Federal Court to seek redress. Minister of the State of Sarawak (Borneo ) states : Here Christians can continue to use the word Allah.

    08/01/2010 MALAYSIA
    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."

    30/12/2007 MALAYSIA
    Catholic weekly allowed to publish using the word ‘Allah’
    Ministry of Internal Security backs away from trying to reserve the word ‘Allah’ for Muslims only. Paper’s editor, Fr Lawrence Andrew, is grateful.

    25/02/2009 MALAYSIA
    Malaysian government defeated by history: Christians have used the word "Allah" for centuries
    On February 27, the diocese of Kuala Lumpur is going to court against the government, which has prohibited the use of the term for reasons of safety. But the Constitution and history are on the side of the Christians. The Minister of the Interior has given permission to use the word "Allah," but only if the phrase "for Christians only" is printed on the cover.

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