Burned Malaysian church. Image: AFP
The court and government of Malaysia are at odds over the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims, specifically the Roman Catholic Church. Four churches have been attacked with varying degrees of success and numerous automobiles bearing Christian symbols have been vandalized. The government had recently banned the Roman Catholic newsletter, The Herald
, from using referring to God as Allah, but that ruling was overturned by the country’s high court. The government appealed which has led to a temporary suspension.
Muslims in Malaysia argue that the “Allah” is exclusive to Islam, and its use by Christians would confuse Muslims. But Catholic church officials say that for Christian indigenous tribes in the eastern part of Malaysia, who are the primary readers of the Herald’s Malay-language edition, “Allah” is the only word they have known for God for decades.
A fire attack on the Metro Tabernacle Church damaged an office on the first floor. Separate attacks on the Assumption church and the Life Chapel caused minor damage, according to officials.