THE GUARDIAN: Three churches in Kuala Lumpur attacked after court reverses ban on Christians using the word 'Allah' to mean 'God'
Three Malaysian churches were attacked with firebombs, causing extensive damage to one, as Muslims pledged today to prevent Christians from using the word "Allah", escalating religious tensions in the multiracial country.
Many Malay Muslims, who make up 60% of the population, are incensed by a recent high court decision to overturn a ban on Roman Catholics using Allah as a translation for God in the Malay-language edition of their main newspaper, the Herald.
The government had said that Allah, an Arabic word that predates Islam, was exclusive to the faith. It refused to make an exception, even though the Herald's Malay edition is read only by Christian indigenous tribes in the remote states of Sabah and Sarawak.
At Friday prayers at two main mosques in downtown Kuala Lumpur, young worshippers carried banners and vowed to defend Islam.
"We will not allow the word Allah to be inscribed in your churches," one shouted into a loudspeaker at the Kampung Bahru mosque. About 50 other people carried posters reading "Heresy arises from words wrongly used" and "Allah is only for us".
"Islam is above all. Every citizen must respect that," said Ahmad Johari, who attended prayers at the National Mosque. "I hope the court will understand the feeling of the majority Muslims of Malaysia. We can fight to the death over this issue." >>> Associated Press | Friday, January 08, 2010