Two more churches in Malaysia were firebombed Sunday, bringing the total to six since a court ruled that non-Muslims can use the word "Allah" as a term for God.
No one has been hurt in the attacks, which began Friday. They follow a high court's ruling that Christians can use the word "Allah" in literature printed in the country's official language, Malay.
In Malay, the word for God is "Allah," as it is in Arabic.
But many in the predominantly Muslim country, including the government, believe the word should be exclusive to Islam.
The government has banned the use of the word in Christian literature, saying it is likely to confuse Muslims and draw them to Christianity.
The bombings may be an attempt to intimidate judges to overturn the decision.
Political leaders from a range of parties deplored the attacks on the churches.
Prime Minister Najib Razak visited one of the targeted churches on Saturday and called for calm.
Emphasizing his resolve to maintain ethnic and racial harmony in society, Najib also said the Muslim faith prohibits insulting other religions or destroying their sanctuaries.
In recent months, authorities in Malaysia have seized more than 20,000 Bibles because they refer to God as Allah.
The seizures have fed fears among minority groups, which see signs of encroaching Islamic fundamentalism in the predominantly Muslim but multiracial country.
A Roman Catholic weekly newspaper, The Herald, challenged the ban in court after the government threatened to revoke the newspaper's license for using the word in its Malay edition.
Hearings on the case went on for two years before the high court's ruling last week.
Malaysia has some of the tightest government restrictions on religion in the world, according to a study published last month by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. The country was among the 10 most restrictive countries out of 175 in the survey.
But it had relatively low levels of social tension between religious groups, the report found. The Pew study covered events from mid-2006 to mid-2008. However, my studies going back 56 years to the time of the British Raj can relate to the ongoing tolerance and low level tension between religious groups.
Getting down to the nitty gritty, My wife and I lived in Johore Bahru 53-54 for 20 months,we lived next to Malays at 1B Jalan Storey. Their daughters would stay and sleep in our house when I was on night duty. We attended the social functions - weddings of other races and religions, combo's of R/Cs, Muslims, c/of/E, Chinese and Sikhs were quite common, We had Muslim friends a-plenty, Catholic Malays too. Our great friend Abdul Karim Bin Anang,from the Survey dept in JB wrote to us in his own style of copperplate writing for thirty years until his passing. I met up with him again in 1960 and finally when he was dying aged 72, this was in Aug 1986, when Rosemary and I with Tim our son called into Singapore en route from U/K.
Sadly, we do not communicate with his family since the letter from a Indian person an associate member of the Johore Cricket council confirmed his passing and journey to the great Mosque in the sky Sept 1986.
Pic (1) Rosemary with baby Chris and myself. 1954.
(2) Abdul Karim and I, Bukit Tima road S-pore. 1960.
(3) Rosemary 20 with *Anging,(*anging Malay for dog).1953.
(4) Rosemary, Abdul Karim, baby Chris. 1954.
(5) Me at Abdul Karim's Daughter's wedding. 1960.
(6) Abdul Karim at the Sultans Palace, The guy in front in the civvies and sunnies. 1960.
Monday, 11 January 2010
To advise that Vest (Les Bowyer) passed away this morning. Regards, Chris (Son).
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