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Three Malaysia churches firebombed as 'Allah' use tension mounts

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Bazuki Muhammad/Reuters

(Read caption) Church members inspect the torched Metro Tabernacle church in Desa Melawati in Kuala Lumpur on Friday.

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Three churches in Malaysia were firebombed early Friday morning as its government works to quell religious tensions following a court ruling – and a subsequent government appeal – that allows the country’s Christians to use the term Allah to refer to God. Only one church was seriously damaged and no one was injured.

Mosques throughout the country also small organized protests during their Friday prayer services and there are reports of cars with Christian stickers having their windshields smashed.

The controversy began when The Herald, a Roman Catholic newspaper in Malaysia, challenged a ban against the periodical using Allah in the Malay-language section of their newspaper to refer to God in a Christian context. Though Allah has been incorporated into the Malay language to mean God and the Koran teaches (Surah 29:46) that Christians, Muslims, and Jews share the same God, many Malaysian Muslims contend that Allah only refers to God for Muslims. Many allege Christians are using Allah in an effort to convert Muslims to Christianity, reports The Times of London.

Malaysian Christians argue that they have used Allah “for decades” in their Malay-language Bibles without any issues. In the court case, the Herald’s legal team argued that Allah is an Arabic word for God and that they use it in their publication to serve the needs of their subscribers in Borneo. Time magazine reported that they rejected claims of trying to convert Muslims.

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