Arab News has been running coverage of the story out of Malaysia wherein Christian churches are being burnt because a nationalist political party has drummed up a cockamamie idea that ‘Allah’ somehow doesn’t cover the Christian God. For Christians to use the term, they state, is blasphemous and must be punished. It’s weird, too, that the Malaysian government had actually had a law preventing Christians from using the word ‘Allah’.
As Daisy notes in a comment on the Minarets post, there is a marked correlation between religion and ethnicity in Malaysia. This ‘ban’ is actually an effort to suppress an ethnic group that tends to follow Christianity. It conflates ethnicity and religion to make a point in a way popular to at least some nativists.
While the OIC might condemn attacks on mosques in Iraq, I don’t see them making the least comment about actions like these. This is a place where the OIC could actually be helpful. Wonder what’s keeping them away from the issue?
9th church attacked as Malaysian row deepens
Romen Bose | AP
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia on Monday defended its refusal to allow non-Muslims to use the word “Allah,” as a dispute over the issue saw a ninth church attacked in a spate of fire-bombings and vandalism.
The Sidang Injil Borneo Church in the central state of Negri Sembilan was the latest to be targeted amid anger over a court ruling that overturned a government ban on minorities using “Allah” as a translation for “God.”
The church attacks which erupted last Friday have sent tensions soaring in the multicultural nation, where the Muslim Malay majority lives alongside ethnic Chinese and Indian communities.
… Azmi Sharom from the Universiti Malaya criticized the ruling United Malays National Organization (UMNO) for stoking Malay nationalism in order to protect its voter base, after 2008 elections where it lost unprecedented ground to the opposition.
“The soil has already been prepared by UMNO… the tone has been very much about the Malays being under threat’ Sharom said, adding that the “Allah” ban had no basis in theology.
“Instead of making a stand on principle, (UMNO) are trying to make sure they don’t lose appeal to their voters even if it means they are appealing to a bunch of racists,” he said.