Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New York Times On Churches Attacks In Malaysia

Churches Attacked Amid Furor in Malaysia

Malaysian Christians prayed at a temporary location after their church was set ablaze by the unidentified attackers in Kuala Lumpur

Published: January 10, 2010

BANGKOK — An uproar among Muslims in Malaysia over the use of the word Allah by Christians spread over the weekend with the firebombing and vandalizing of several churches, increasing tensions at a time of political turbulence.

Arsonists struck three churches and a convent school early Sunday, and black paint was splashed on another church. This followed the firebombing of four churches on Friday and Saturday. No injuries were reported, and only one church, Metro Tabernacle in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, had extensive damage.

The attacks, unlike anything Malaysia has experienced before, have shaken the country, where many Muslims are angry over a Dec. 31 court ruling that overturned a government ban on the use of the word Allah to denote the Christian God.

Though that usage is common in many countries, where Arabic- and Malay-language Bibles describe Jesus as the “son of Allah,” many Muslims here insist that the word belongs exclusively to them and say that its use by other faiths could confuse Muslim worshipers.

That dispute, in turn, has been described by some observers as a sign of political maneuvering, as the governing party struggles to maintain its dominance after setbacks in national and state elections in March 2008.

Some political analysts and politicians accuse Prime Minister Najib Razak of raising racial and religious issues as he tries to solidify his Malay base. In a difficult balancing act, he must also woo ethnic Chinese and Indians whose opposition contributed to his party’s setback in 2008.

“The political contestation is a lot more intensified,” said Elizabeth Wong, a state official who is a member of Parti Keadilan Rakyat, an opposition party. “In Malaysia the central theme will always be about the Malay identity and about Islam. The parties come up with various policies or means to attempt to appeal to the Muslim Malay voters.”

Mr. Najib condemned the violence, saying the government would “take whatever steps it can to prevent such acts.”

In an interview, the main opposition figure, Anwar Ibrahim, implied that the government was behind the current tensions. “This is the last hope — to incite racial and religious sentiments to cling to power,” he said. “Immediately since the disastrous defeat in the March 2008 election they have been fanning this.”

The government has appealed the court decision and has been granted a stay. The dispute has swelled into a nationwide confrontation, with small demonstrations at mosques and passionate outcries on the Internet.Read more...


eddy said...

I must say that if Anwar was quoted as such then Anwar Ibrahim is a liar of the first order. In fact BN comfortably won the Parliamentary election in March 2008 by a big margin. BN won 140 seats(UMNO won 79 seats) against opposition PKR 31 seats, DAP 28 seats and PAS a measly 23 seats. PKR and DAP seats combined cannot even match UMNO's electoral strength.

For sure BN does not need to manipulate and turn "ALLAH" into a political issue that threathens to engulf the whole nation just to get more support from the voters. BN are too wise to fall into that trap.

Anwar is delusional.

SM said...


The reason why the BN won 140 seats was because of the manipulations of the SPR in moving the boundries of the Parlimentary areas.
If I'm not mistaken, 51% of the electorate voted for the Bn as opposed to the 49% that voted for the Opposition (that tells more than how many seats was won).
As for the Allah issue, it was the BN that first started the problem. In 1986 the BN banned the use of the words "Allah", "Solat", "Kaabah" & "Baitullah" by the Non-Muslims. But I guess the UMNO supporters will still try to put the blame on the Opposition for the stuff that the BN starts!

eddy said...

Bro SM, my point is Anwar Ibrahim lied when he said that BN was defeated in the last election.

Ya Bro you have a point there about the parliamentary boudaries and by extension the state assembly boundaries as well. The change in boundaries may help minimally but it could also be counterproductive either way, eg. BN lost heavily to DAP at Seputih with a majority of 36,492. It all boils down to the voters who they choose at the time of elections. In fact the opposition bagged the states of Selangor, Perak, Pulau Pinang, Kedah and Kelantan, so really the boundaries can only help so much but finally it is the voters who gets to choose who the winners are.In fact many UMNO voters voted for either PKR or PAS because they were not happy with the flip flopping UMNO leadership at that time. So there you have it.

On the "ALLAH" issue, I have to refrain from commenting further as it involves soal akidah or one's believe. For Muslims, ALLAH is the one and only God who does not beget nor begotten and for the Christians Gospel they believe in the Holy Trinity, so everybody will have their point of view, its a matter of faith.

Since the Herald publishers sees it fit to go to the Courts for relief, then we should as law abiding citizens wait for the Courts to give their decision. For what it is worth, we should stop blaming each other it is not worth it, in fact some people will go all the way to blaming the Missionaries of hundreds of years ago for using the word "ALLAH' to spread their Gospel in South East Asia.Why not use the word "Tuhan" it is also a beautiful name for God. So Bro SM, this religious debate it will never end until the end of days.

Certainly the debates will not end even if the opposition takes over Sarawak or Sabah just because they are politicising this "ALLAH" issue for their own political agenda. Religion and politics to me is a very combustible mix. TQ.

SM said...

Bro Eddy,