Church fire-bombed ahead of protests
A church has been fire-bombed in an attack that gutted its ground floor, church officials said, escalating a dispute over the use of the word ‘Allah’ by non-Muslims.
Al least four other churches are also believed to have been attacked in the last 12 hours in the Klang Valley, including the Assumption Church in Petaling Jaya.
A fire department official said all stations were on alert for more blazes at religious buildings, ahead of planned nationwide protests today by Muslim groups angry over the use of the word as a translation for ‘God’ by Christians.
The three-storey Metro Tabernacle church in Desa Melawati, Kuala Lumpur, part of the Assemblies of God movement, was set ablaze in the attack which took place around midnight, said church leader Peter Yeow, 62.
“Witnesses saw four people smash the glass and throw incendiaries into the church building. They came on two motorcycles,” he told AFP at the scene as fire department forensic officers picked through the wreckage.
There were no casualties in the attack on the church, which occupies the corner lot of a row of shop houses and which Yeow said draws some 1,500 people weekly.
“The fire destroyed the administrative part of the church. We do not know if the prayer hall on the third floor suffered any damage,” he said, warning all other churches to “double their guard” against any attacks.
Anuar Harun, who headed the fire department operation, said that forensic experts were working with the police and a canine unit to probe the blaze.
“We are investigating the cause of fire. We cannot provide any more details. It is a sensitive issue,” he said when asked if it was a case of arson.
“We have asked all our fire stations to be on alert for such fires on religious premises,” he told AFP.
Meanwhile Kuala Lumpur police chief Sabtu Othman said the police found one spanner and a kerosene container at the scene, along with two scorched helmets.
He said that the police were investigating the matter under Section 436 of the Penal Code which can punish an offender to 20 years’ jail and a fine.
Meanwhile the Assumption church, which is located next to the Assunta Hospital, is believed to have come under attack at about 4am today.
Church officials said that homemade firebombs were thrown into the Catholic church but fortunately they did not explode.
Building erupted into flames
The High Court last week ruled in favour of the Catholic weekly, The Herald newspaper, which has used ‘Allah’ as a translation for “God” in its Malay-language section. The government has said the word should be used only by Muslims.
The ruling was suspended on Wednesday pending an appeal, after the government argued the decision could cause racial conflict in multicultural Malaysia, where Muslim Malays make up 60 percent of the population.
(this is part of the latest news on Malaysiakini)
As a Catholic, a darn gutsy person with a citizen journalist role, I can do many things. But I shall rely on Jesus our Lord. I will let Him ministers to me what shall be the next thing I must do. I had interviewed a few people earlier (before the court stay order) about the matter. But I didn’t want to publish it anymore.
I should be asking my church elder if I can help to calm things by hearing what he has to say to us. But I am not doing to do it.
It is very sad that we have come to this stage. But it has to come. And we shall persevere. Things like these had happened in Jesus’s time too. What does Jesus did then? He reminded us. Blessed are the peacemaker, Blessed are you who are persecuted…Blessed are the meek…
Few days ago, I told CM, “You don’t say anything ha? Cos anything from you, can be twisted and I may get killed simply because I am a Catholic. Imagine I go to a protest and they know who I am…”
It was told in a joking way, with all my animated gestures. Not many people have this privilege of talking to a leader like that. But what I wanted to say was, Please keep politics out of the issue. And he quoted to me, Blessed are the meek…
Well, those people, who did all these nonsense. If they had done it because of the Divine’s interest, God bless them for their courage. But if they had done it out of hate, well..it is not for me to say. However, as a Christian, I shall look at this with calmness. And aren’t they glad they are picking on Christians who are often seen as ‘turn the right cheek’ people?