Religious tensions are on the rise in Malaysia after a church was bombed early Monday morning. Police say that men on motorcycles threw Molotov cocktails into the church as they drove past. No one was injured. Authorities believe the attack is linked to the controversy over the use of “Allah,” the Muslim word for God.
On Sunday, officials at the Penang church found a banner hung on the church fence stating, “Jesus is the son of Allah.” Church leaders believe the banner was hung by individuals trying to provoke further tension over the use of the word Allah, a controversial topic in Malaysia.
The Malaysian government says Allah should be exclusively used by Muslims – they fear that use by non-Muslims might spark confusion and even conversions. But Christians in Malaysia are accustomed to using the same word for God, and they say the restriction is a violation of their rights.
In recent weeks the Islamic authorities have seized over 300 Bibles written in Malay simply because of use of the world Allah.
Of Malaysia’s population of 29 million people, around 60 percent of Malaysia's are Muslims. Christians comprise about 9 percent of the population.