Two Malaysian churches bombed ahead of Muslim protest

Two Malaysian churches bombed ahead of Muslim protest

Fire rescue personal inspect the damage after unidentified attackers set fire to a church in Malaysia, early Friday. AP

The three-storey Metro Tabernacle, an Assemblies of God church in suburban Kuala Lumpur, was set ablaze around midnight on Thursday when two suspects smashed the windows on the ground floor and tossed inflammable materials.

Church leader Peter Yeow was quoted as saying witnesses could not stop the suspects because they sped off on a motorcycle, the Star newspaper said.

Hours later, the Catholic Church of Assumption in Petaling Jaya, a city outside Kuala Lumpur, was attacked by a single homemade bomb thrown into the church grounds.
"Our guards saw the suspects flee in a car but could not recognise them," priest Philip Muthu said.He said the makeshift bomb was an ignited kerosene-filled bottle.
The reverend said Friday's incident was the second such attack on the church in two months.

Nobody was hurt in the attacks although the Metro Tabernacle church suffered damage to its ground floor.

Several Muslim groups have announced a street protest Friday to oppose a High Court ruling last week that allowed the Herald, Malaysia's main Roman Catholic newsletter, to use the word Allah, which is the Arabic word for God.

The government had earlier last year banned the use of the word in any non-Muslim publications.

The National Evangelical Christian Fellowship, which represents the majority of Malaysia's Protestant churches, said there were reports that several other churches suffered similar attacks early Friday but it could not confirm those reports.
"We are shocked that these attacks have taken place at these places of worship," the fellowship's secretary-general, Sam Ang, said.

"We told the police," Philip said. "We don't want to connect this to the Allah issue."
"We're not reading anything extra into these attacks, but of course, we needed to make a police report in light of the recent security issues," he said.

This week, the government filed an appeal against the High Court ruling, and a stay of execution has been approved until the appeal can be heard.

Non-Muslim groups have come out in opposition of the ban, saying the word Allah predates Islam and has been used by Malay-speaking Christians for decades. Critics said the ban restricts non-Muslims' freedom of practising their religion.

Multiracial Malaysia has always struggled with balancing religious and racial sensitivities. While Muslims make up the majority of its 27 million people, Malaysia is also home to large groups of Buddhists, Hindus and Christians.

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