Sunday, January 10, 2010

Fourth church hit by arson attack

Another church was firebombed today, police and church officials said, the fourth such attack in two days as a row escalated over the use of the word 'Allah' by non-Muslims.

The police are investigating the arson attempt at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Petaling Jaya, which resulted in minor damages.

At about 2pm, church authorities found that Molotov cocktails had been thrown at the windows of the first and second floors of the three-storey building, the church's Bishop Philip Loke told AFP.

"They narrowly missed it, but part of the walls are burnt," he said, adding "we suspect this attack is linked to the other attacks."

The firebombing is believed to linked to the attacks of three churches - the Metro Tabernacle Church in Desa Melawati, the Assumption Church and Life Chapel Church, both in Petaling Jaya.

All three churches were attacked by unknown assailants between midnight and the early hours of the morning yesterday.

The ground floor of the three-storey Metro Tabernacle Church was gutted while the other two churches suffered minor damages.

Selangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar confirmed today's attack.

"We believe this attack is linked to the three other attacks but nobody saw how it happened. There were no eyewitnesses," he told AFP.

NONEHowever, inspector-general of police Musa Hasan said he could not absolutely confirm that this was indeed the fourth attack on churches in the Klang Valley.

Musa, who visited Metro Tabernacle Church this afternoon, also added that he was uncertain regarding the time of this supposed attack.

"The complainant saw glass on the floor outside the church and so he lodged a police report. This is believed to be the fourth incident," he told reporters while accompanying Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak in inspecting the damages to Metro Tabernacle.

The Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, which is in Jalan Utara, Section 52 in Petaling Jaya Old Town, is located near the Assumption Church.

Top cop get crank calls

Musa also revealed that since making his mobile phone number public yesterday, he had received 900 calls and 800 SMS.

Many of which were well-wishers, concerned citizens and but a few were crank calls.

"There was one person who called and just kept quiet," said the police chief.

On the Metro Tabernacle case, Musa said the police were in the process of determining the nationality of the alleged arsonists.

"A witness is helping us (with the investigation)," he said.

Religious tensions were heightened when a court ruled in favour of the Herald Catholic newspaper in its dispute with the government over the publication's use of the word 'Allah'.

Enraged by the ruling, Muslim groups held protests outside 10 mosques across the nation yesterday.

The Herald, which is printed in four languages, has been using the word 'Allah' as a translation for 'God' in its Malay-language section, but the government argued 'Allah' should be used only by Muslims.

The term 'Allah' is widely used among indigenous Christian tribes in Sabah and Sarawak, most of whom speak Bahasa Malaysia.


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