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

    » 02/07/2014, 00.00


    Unknown vandals desecrate eight graves in a Christian cemetery in Kuantan

    A cemetery worker made the discovery this morning. Some gravestones were destroyed, crosses were broken, and stone pieces smashed. At present, nothing is known about those responsible for the incident, which could be connected to a spate of recent church attacks. Sources tell AsiaNews that the goal now is to contain tensions and restore calm.

    Kuala Lumpur (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.

    The attack was discovered this morning, when a cemetery employee found some damaged graves (pictured).

    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.

    Local 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 to justice.

    Tanjung Api cemetery covers an area of ​​1.5 acres state land and has been used by 36 Christian communities in Kuantan since 1997.

    Although there 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."

    The cemetery attack is the latest in a series of incidents against the Catholic community in Malaysia, where religious tensions have been on the rise.

    Tensions are 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 Court 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 groups.

    The nation 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 members

    A Malay-Latin dictionary published 400 years ago shows that the term 'Allah' was used in the local language to refer to the Biblical God centuries ago.

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    See also

    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."

    21/03/2013 NEPAL
    Govt sets up special commission for Christian cemeteries
    Nepal's interim government under Khil Raj Regmi is behind the commission. It will select burial locations before 15 July, ending decades of dispute between Hindus and Christians. The lack of space has forced minorities to bury their dead one on top of the other, up to ten per tomb.

    12/07/2014 MALAYSIA
    For Sepang Muslim MP, Catholic rights violated in Allah controversy
    Mohamed Hanipa Maidin demands justice for ‘The Herald’ and Malaysia’s Christian community, which has been under attack for some time. The decision to turn down a request for leave to appeal is against the Constitution because the case touches the public interest and raises an important constitutional question. Wondering about the “actual meaning of religious freedom" in Malaysia, he reiterated that Catholics did not violate any rule or principle.

    09/01/2014 MALAYSIA
    The 'Allah' affair: Police interrogates Fr Lawrence, turns evidence over to prosecutor
    The Public Prosecutor gets transcript from the priest's police interrogation. As the editor of the Herald, the latter is under investigation for "sedition". He plans to avoid making any statement that might further fuel the controversy. However, the matter has already crossed national boundaries as a US-based imam appeals to the Malaysian government; for him, banning the use of the word 'Allah' by Christians is a "tragic mistake."

    19/01/2016 18:41:00 MALAYSIA
    Malaysian Christians and Muslims divided amid overtures, fears and suspicions

    For Fr Lawrence Andrew, editor of Malaysia’s only weekly paper, "The Church is working hard to reach out to Muslims, and the result is the meeting between our archbishop and the mufti." In the wake of the Jakarta attacks, the “fear of Islamisation” is growing.

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