Churches Attacked in Malaysian ‘Allah’ Dispute

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by ppgj, Jan 9, 2010.

  1. ppgj

    ppgj Senior Member Senior Member

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    Churches Attacked in Malaysian ‘Allah’ Dispute


    By SETH MYDANS
    Published: January 8, 2010

    [​IMG]
    The Metro Tabernacle Church in Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, one of three churches that were attacked with firebombs on Friday.

    Video Library Home Page - The New York Times

    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Three Christian churches were attacked with firebombs Friday as tensions rose in a dispute over whether Christians could use the word “Allah” in this largely Muslim nation.

    The Metro Tabernacle Church in Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, one of three churches that were attacked with firebombs on Friday.

    Later in the day, small crowds rallied outside two major mosques in the capital, in a growing protest over a court ruling that overturned a government ban on the use of “Allah” by Roman Catholics as a translation for God.

    The government has appealed that ruling, insisting that the ban should remain in force, and made no move to bar the unsanctioned rallies, as it commonly does.

    But a police helicopter hovered low over the front of the city’s central mosque, drowning out the words of the speakers on its balcony.

    “Allah is only for us,” said Faedzah Fuad, 28, who participated in the rally. “The Christians can use any word, we don’t care, but please don’t use the word Allah.”

    Despite escalating political rhetoric and the early-morning violence, the rallies of 200 to 300 people were far smaller than the thousands predicted by organizers.

    Hand-lettered signs reading “Please respect the name of Allah” remained in a stack on the ground where Ms. Faedzah had prepared them.

    Though Malaysia is 60 percent Malay and Muslim, sizable minorities of Chinese and Indians practice Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism in this country of 28 million.

    Ethnic and religious politics have grown more intense since the government suffered severe losses in a general election last March. Much of the reverse came at the hands of minority voters who were disturbed by the government’s increasingly conservative Islamic tone.

    The government has appealed and has been granted a stay of the High Court ruling on Dec. 31 that allowed a Catholic newspaper to use the word “Allah” in its Malay-language editions.

    The word has been widely used as a translation for the word “God” in Malay-language texts and services, particularly among Christian indigenous tribes in the remote states of Sabah and Sarawak.

    It is also the common word used to describe the Christian God in Arabic-speaking countries like Egypt and Syria and in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, whose language is a variant of the Malay language.

    During the current dispute, many Muslims here have argued that the use of the word by other religions could confuse believers and tempt them to convert from Islam.

    Prime Minister Najib Razak condemned the attacks on the churches Friday and defended the government against accusations that it had at least tacitly sanctioned the violence. “We have always been very responsible,” he said at a news conference.

    In the first attack, shortly after midnight, the police said that a firebomb had destroyed the ground-level office of the Metro Tabernacle Church. They said that worship areas on the two upper floors were undamaged and that no one had been injured.

    Two other churches were attacked by arsonists before dawn, with only one of them sustaining minor damage, according to the police.

    Churches Attacked in Malaysian ‘Allah’ Dispute - NYTimes.com
     
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  3. ppgj

    ppgj Senior Member Senior Member

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  4. mattster

    mattster Respected Member Senior Member

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    Malaysia is slowly going to "hell in a handbasket".

    I am glad that I left 25 years ago. No regrets at all !! None !!

    Its a shame because, it was once upon a time, a very tolerant country with enormous potential.
    It still is somewhat tolerant, but its a classic case of the too many nutcases gradually overwhelming the sane folks.

    The advent of political Islam and a new Islamic resurgence among the majority Muslim Malays has created all kinds of tension with the non-Muslim Indian and Chinese.

    Non-Muslims have been gradually become more and more marginalized, and Malaysia has become a laughing stock with some of the gimmicks pulled by the Islamic authorities

    Here is a list of a few recent events I can remember:

    1) Islamic authorities stealing Hindu dead bodies from the morgue on the count that the husband converted without telling his Hindu wife before he died. This was a Hindu man who was married more than 20/30 years.

    2) Forcing young children 4y/o to convert to Islam because one party of a non-Muslim couple converted to Islam.

    3) Monopoly of the word "Allah" which even many Malay Muslim scholars have claimed is utterly ridiculous since it is an Arabic word that predates the founding of Islam.

    4) Canning a young Muslim woman for having a beer with her husband in a pub, whereas every single day there are tons of Muslim men who drink freely in other states in Malaysia.

    5) Dragging a severed head of a cow to a Hindu Temple and throwing inside the grounds of the temple to protest the building of a Hindu Temple in a predominantly Malay area.
    (Its not like there aren't a ton of Mosques in predominantly Chinese and Indian areas. If an Indian or Chinese were to throw a pig head into a mosque, I can guarantee you that that half the Muslim population in Malaysia will be out in streets with knives killing every non-Muslim they could get their hands on )

    6) and in the last few days, the fire-bombing of 4 to 5 churches over this stupid " use of the word Allah" issue.


    There is no end to the ridiculous and trivial debates that seem to come up in Malaysia regarding race and religion.

    This is despite the fact that they have instituted a policy called the NEP since the 1970s which provide special priviledges for the Malay Muslims - everything from University entrance, scholarships, business loans, govt jobs, buying homes with discounts, etc, etc. I cant even list all the special priviledges.....too many.

    The Malay Muslims call themselves "bumiputras" - Prince of the Soil.
    Indians(10%) and Chinese(25%) are effectively 2nd class citizens and they are reminded of it every day.

    Malaysia is slowly becoming the "Theater of the Absurd".
    Malaysia is often quoted as one of the few examples of a succesful dynamic tolerant Muslim majority country.
    That definition of Malaysia is slowly becoming a joke !!.
    But on the plus side, the food there is still fantastic.

    PS: I dont mean to imply that all Malay are racist bigots or religious fanatics, but it doesnt take many to spoil the soup for everyone.
     
  5. ppgj

    ppgj Senior Member Senior Member

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    The Hindu : News / International : Church attacks in Malaysia deepen racial tension

    Church attacks in Malaysia deepen racial tension

    AP, KUALA LUMPUR, January 11, 2010

    Eight churches have been attacked over three days amid a dispute over the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims, sparking fresh political instability that is denting Malaysia's image.

    The unprecedented attacks have set off a wave of disquiet among Malaysia's minority Christians and strained their ties with the majority Malay Muslims. About 9 percent of Malaysia's 28 million people are Christians, most of whom are ethnic Chinese or Indian.

    Muslims make up 60 percent of the population and most are ethnic Malays.

    The attacks were a blow to racial unity espoused by Prime Minister Najib Razak under his “One Malaysia” slogan since taking power in April, and posed a headache for him as he seeks to strengthen his ruling coalition after its losses in 2008 general elections.

    “It showed that, after 52 years of living together, nation building and national unity is in tatters,” said Charles Santiago, an opposition Member of Parliament. “The church attacks shattered notions of Malaysia as a model secular Muslim nation in the eyes of the international community.

    “Malaysians are now living in fear of a racial clash following the church attacks and rising orthodox Islamic tones in the country,” Mr. Santiago said.

    Many Muslims are angry about a Dec. 31 High Court decision overturning a government ban on Roman Catholics' using “Allah” to refer to their God in the Malay-language edition of their main newspaper, the Herald.

    The ruling also applies to the ban's broader applications such as Malay-language Bibles, 10,000 copies of which were recently seized by authorities because they translated God as Allah. The government has appealed the verdict.

    Firebombs were thrown at seven churches nationwide since Friday, with another splashed with black paint. No one was hurt and all suffered little damage, except the Metro Tabernacle Church in a Kuala Lumpur suburb, which had its office on the first floor gutted by fire.

    Analysts said the line between race and religion in Malaysia is slowly eroding.

    “There has been a gradual merging of Malay identity with Islam. Malaysia is heading toward dangerous waters,'' said James Chin, political science lecturer at Monash University in Malaysia.

    “Minorities are under siege and feel they don't have a place in Malaysia anymore,” he said.

    Malaysia's ruling coalition, the National Front, is dominated by UMNO, which is made up exclusively of Malay Muslims. The Front narrowly won general elections in 2008, but it was its worst performance after five decades of political dominance since Malaysia won independence in 1957.

    Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim blamed the church attacks on the UMNO-led government's “incessant racist propaganda” over the Allah issue and inflammatory rhetoric issued by state-controlled mainstream media.

    Even Razaleigh Hamzah, a veteran UMNO member, has criticized UMNO for “digging itself into an intolerant hard-line position” in a bid to woo voters after its election losses.

    “UMNO is fanning communal sentiment, and the government it leads is taking up policy lines based on sensitivities rather than principle,” he said.

    The Allah ban is unusual in the Muslim world. The Arabic word is commonly used by Christians to describe God in such countries as Egypt, Syria and Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim nation.

    The Herald has been using Allah in its Bahasa Malaysia publication since 1995, but it was not until 2006 that it was warned by the government to stop using Allah to refer to God.

    Despite the attacks, thousands of Christians nationwide attended Sunday services and prayed for national unity and an end to the violence.

    Men, women and children from the Metro Tabernacle parish assembled Sunday in a cavernous, 1,800-seat meeting hall of the Malaysian Chinese Association party for the service.

    Government leaders and many Muslims have condemned the firebombings, saying it is un-Islamic to attack places of worship.

    Mr. Najib visited the Metro Tabernacle church late Saturday and announced a grant of 500,000 ringgit for rebuilding it at a new location.

    “It's been a difficult weekend for all. I share your outrage. We must stand united and not allow these incidents to break us,” Mr. Najib wrote on his twitter account, NajibRazak.

    The Rev. Hermen Shastri, general secretary of the Council of Churches of Malaysia, said Christians won't be intimidated by the attacks, describing them as the work of an extremist minority among Muslims.
     
  6. mattster

    mattster Respected Member Senior Member

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    Yesterday it seems like someone staring throwing rocks at a Sikh temple in Malaysia.

    All that talk of interracial harmony is slowly getting flushed down the toilet, because of religion.
     
  7. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    While the term is best known in the West for its use by Muslims as a reference to God, it is used by Arabic-speakers of all Abrahamic faiths, including Christians and Jews, in reference to "God".[1][2][3] The term was also used by pagan Meccans as a reference to the creator-god, possibly the supreme deity in pre-Islamic Arabia.[4]
    Allah
     
  8. sandeepdg

    sandeepdg Senior Member Senior Member

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    Seems like Malaysia is slowly going down the hardline Taliban way, and if they keep at it for long, then maybe another Afghanistan in the making !
     
  9. ppgj

    ppgj Senior Member Senior Member

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    www.outlookindia.com | Erasing ?Allah? In Churches And Mosques 
     
  10. S.A.T.A

    S.A.T.A Senior Member Senior Member

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    While violence of this kind over such a seemingly trivial matter is condemnable,its more than meets the eye.Why do Christian have a problem with using Yahweh or jehovah,a term for God used abundantly in Old and new testament.

    While Christian literature and evangelists refer to god as Parameshwar(of course without understanding its spiritual context) in the India,this can accepted given that the term is endemic to only Indian phonology.However Allah is not endemic to Bhasha and hence the term must only be viewed in its narrow religious sense,within the parameters of the Islamic tradition.

    This must be just another cheap grape shots in pursuit of pope john Paul's now famous call for increasing the 'Harvest'.
     
  11. ahmedsid

    ahmedsid Top Gun Senior Member

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    Ray sir is correct, Allah is used all over the Mid east and some parts of Africe from people of all Religions. You go to a christian in Lebanon and he/she will be using Allah. The Malaysians are pretty narrow in their mindset if they start acting like this. This is not a good message, not at all. Just goes onto show that its all the more important that we all must be ready to respond to and annihilate hardcore religious fundamentalists wherever they are. Shame actually!
     
  12. roma

    roma NRI in Europe Senior Member

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    which soup - is taht soup kambing ?? heheheheh

    do you speak malay ?

    Hi there mattster _ hmmm interesting that you were in malaysia - so that was durign the time of Dr Mahathir ??

    i too had some contact with malaysia through foreign student friends mainly - am still in contact with them - apparently the situation is basically under control

    from what i heard i t is mainly the east malaysian churches who are causing this problem .
     
  13. mattster

    mattster Respected Member Senior Member

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    You got your facts all wrong about Malaysia.

    East Malaysia is where Muslim, Christians and even Animists have lived peacefully and respected each other's faith.

    West Malaysia is where there has always been the interracial and inter-religious tension.

    In West Malaysia - all the Malay speaking people are exclusively Muslim.
    In East Malaysia, you have Malay speaking Christians who are part of the indigenous culture of Sabah and Sarawak.

    These people have used the word "Allah" for ages without any problems.

    East Malaysians are upset because it seems that West Malaysia problems seem to infect East Malaysia.

    The West Malaysian government exploits natural resources in Sabah and Sarawak and takes most of the money back to West Malaysia.
    East Malaysians are basically being screwed by West Malaysia as all their timber and mineral resources are exploited and very little given to the people of East Malaysia.

    Sabah and Sarawak(East Malaysia) should have never joined the Malaysian Federation. I think they are slowly begining to realize that now.
     
  14. ppgj

    ppgj Senior Member Senior Member

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    www.outlookindia.com | No Monopoly On Allah
     
  15. enlightened1

    enlightened1 Member of The Month JANUARY 2010

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    Several severed pigs' heads have been found in mosque compounds in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. The national police chief Musa Hassan linked the discoveries to recent attacks on various houses of worship. Pigs are considered unclean by Muslims and their presence in the mosque compound will be taken as an insult. In recent weeks, 11 churches, one Sikh temple and some Muslim prayer halls have been vandalised amid a row over non-Muslims' use of the word Allah.

    Religious tensions in Malaysia have increased since a court ruled last month that a Roman Catholic newspaper could use the word Allah in its Malay-language edition to describe the Christian god.

    Aggravation

    "By looking at the modus operandi of the two incidents... I think it is the same group that is involved in the previous attacks," said Musa Hassan. AFP reported the police chief saying he believed the attacks were being funded by a group that was attempting to worsen tensions in Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim nation which is also home to large ethnic Chinese and Indian communities. "I think they are throwing money (to those carrying out the attacks) to cause such incidents," he told reporters."Don't play with fire, I will not compromise on the security of the country. Please do not provoke the public or any parties to undermine the security of the country," he added. At least one severed pig's head was found at the Taman Dato Harun mosque in a nearby district, said the mosque's prayer leader, Hazelaihi Abdullah.

    The police chief confirmed this incident and said two others were left at the nearby Al Imam al Tirmizi mosque. Separately, Zulkifli Mohamad, the top official at the Sri Sentosa Mosque on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, said men arriving for early morning prayers found two bloodied pigs' heads in plastic bags in the compound. "We feel this is an evil attempt by some people to aggravate tensions," Mr Zulkifli told The Associated Press. No-one has been hurt in the series of attacks on various houses of worship since the 31 December court ruling which allowed non-Muslims to use the word Allah as a translation for God. Police have arrested 19 people in connection with the attacks so far. Correspondents say some of Malaysia's majority Muslim community suspect Christians of wanting to use the word Allah to encourage Muslims to convert to Christianity.

    Analysts say the controversy has been stoked by hard-line elements within Malay Muslim political groups to assert Malay primacy in a shifting political scene. The government has appealed against the ruling, in contrast to countries like Indonesia, Egypt and Syria where Christian minorities freely use the Arabic word to refer to God.
     
  16. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    Long long ago a senior guy told us as green horns - never discuss with others (namely strangers alike) about 2 things, one is religion the other is...

    At that time I didn't get the point... now I've come to see interreligious delicacy...

    I was told that in Malaysia there's even a quota in universities set for indigenous Malays who're the majority followed by Chinese and Indians in the population instead of by academic performance. Is it true?
     

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