News / Asia

Three More Churches, Catholic School Attacked in Malaysia

Three churches and a Catholic school were attacked in Malaysia Sunday, as tensions rise over the use of the word "Allah" by non-Muslims. 

Police say firebombs were thrown at a church and a school in Taiping, in northern Perak state.  Nearby, a bottle of kerosene was found inside another church Sunday in what is believed to be a failed attack.  In southern Malacca state, black paint was splashed on the outside of a Baptist church.

Despite the attacks, thousands of parishioners showed up for Sunday services presenting a united front to the unidentified attackers.

Home Minister Hishamuddin Hussein told the state news agency Bernama that the situation is under control and people should not worry.

Four churches were firebombed on Friday and Saturday in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, with one being badly burned.

Religious tensions in the mostly Muslim country have risen since Malaysia's High Court in late December overturned a government ban on the use of the word "Allah" as another word for "God" by non-Muslims. 

A Roman Catholic newspaper, The Herald, led the legal fight against the government ban on behalf of religious and ethnic groups.  Its editors want to use the world "Allah" in the paper's Malay-language edition, arguing that it is the only Malay word for "God."

Supporters of the ban say Christians should not call their god by the name Muslims use.  

Nearly 60 percent of Malaysia's 27 million people are ethnic Malays embracing Islam.  Major minority religions include Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism.
 

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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