(AsiaNews) - Person or persons unknown desecrated eight gravestones in a
Christian cemetery in Tanjung Api, near Kuantan, capital of Kuantan District,
in Malaysia's Pahang State.
was discovered this morning, when a cemetery employee found some damaged graves
It is likely
to fuel sectarian tensions in the Asian country, where Catholics and Muslims are
already at loggerheads over the use of the word Allah for the Christian God, something
that is currently before the courts.
witnesses said that some gravestones were completely smashed, and some crosses
were broken. Flowerpots and other stone markers were also broken. It seems that
perpetrators used a heavy tool to do the damage.
A cemetery administrator,
who reported the incident to the police, now hopes the vandals will be brought
Tanjung Api cemetery
covers an area of 1.5 acres state land and has been used by 36 Christian
communities in Kuantan since 1997.
is no actual evidence, sources told AsiaNews
that the incident is probably linked to anti-Church
banners and firebombs in late January.
"The area is
accessible to everyone, all day, through a small door," said Kuantan
Tanjung Api Christian Cemetery Committee chairperson Datuk Jack How. "In all these years, we have never had any problems of this kind. Our guess
is this occurred recently."
attack is the latest in a series of incidents against the Catholic community in
Malaysia, where religious tensions have been on the rise.
due to a confrontation between a Catholic weekly, the Malaysia Herald, its director Fr Andrew Lawrence, and the
government over the use of the word Allah by non-Muslims.
In October, the
of Appeal ruled that the Catholic weekly could not use the word Allah for
the Christian God. The paper's director appealed the decision, and a hearing is
scheduled for 5 March.
"The priority today is to contain tensions," said
local senior Church leaders, who asked to remain anonymous. Things should become
calm and quiet again, they insisted. "There is still much to do," they
added, given how delicate the situation is.
On the one
hand, the goal is to protect the rights of the minority in court; on the other
hand, everyone wants peaceful coexistence between the country's various ethnic
of over 28 million people has a Muslim majority (60 per cent). Christians are
the third largest religious group after Buddhists, with more than 2.6 million
dictionary published 400 years ago shows that the
term 'Allah' was used in the local
language to refer to the Biblical God centuries ago.