Attacks on Christian churches and institutions continue in Malaysia after a court ruling allowing non-Muslims to use the word “Allah” for God sparked protests and increased religious tensions. A government leader said the situation has stabilized and suspects are being pursued.
Four churches near the capital of Kuala Lumpur were attacked with firebombs in the initial incidents.
Since then, petrol bombs were thrown at a church and a convent school in the state of Perak and at a church in Sarawak on the island of Borneo, while another church was daubed with black paint, the BBC reports. Gasoline was also poured onto the front door of a church and set alight, resulting only in damage to the door.
On Monday Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said that there had been no serious incidents since Sunday night, the Malaysian Insider reports. He added that he was thankful that Sunday services “proceeded smoothly without any untoward incidents.”
Asked by a reporter about accusations that the government was passive in responding to the church attacks, he said that was “totally unfair” and noted that the only incident of the day was the burning of a door.
“I do not like statements of that nature, because in four days we have managed to stabilize the situation. We have not allowed it to spread to the streets and I think the way you ask that question is very mischievous.”
Hishammuddin reported that the police have narrowed down possible suspects but require more time to gather evidence. According to the Malaysian insider, he said people should not take everything on the internet or text massages as the whole truth concerning rumors of a gathering this Sunday.
According to the BBC’s description of the latest attacks, the petrol bomb thrown at a guard house of a Catholic convent school in the town of Taiping did not explode.
Several broken bottles and paint thinners were found at the church next to the convent and also at All Saints, one of the oldest Anglican churches in the country.
Bricks and stones were thrown at glass windows of the Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Miri, a logging and oil town in the state of Sarawak. In southern Malacca state, the outer wall of the Malacca Baptist Church was splashed with black paint.
Sarawak and the neighboring state of Sabah are home to most of Malaysia’s Christians, who according to the BBC make up about 9.1 percent of the country’s 28 million people.
Rev. Hermen Shastri, general secretary of the Council of Churches of Malaysia, said Christians would not be intimidated by the attacks.
"We all have to stand together to stamp out terror perpetuated by these extremist groups," he said, according to the Associated Press.