A fire department official said all stations were on alert for more blazes at religious buildings, ahead of planned nationwide protests today by Muslim groups angry over the use of the word as a translation for 'God' by Christians.
The three-storey Metro Tabernacle church in Desa Melawati, Kuala Lumpur, part of the Assemblies of God movement, was set ablaze in the attack which took place around midnight, said church leader Peter Yeow, 62.
"Witnesses saw four people smash the glass and throw incendiaries into the church building. They came on two motorcycles," he toldAFP at the scene as fire department forensic officers picked through the wreckage.
There were no casualties in the attack on the church, which occupies the corner lot of a row of shop houses and which Yeow said draws some 1,500 people weekly.
"The fire destroyed the administrative part of the church. We do not know if the prayer hall on the third floor suffered any damage," he said, warning all other churches to "double their guard" against any attacks.
Anuar Harun, who headed the fire department operation, said that forensic experts were working with the police and a canine unit to probe the blaze.
"We are investigating the cause of fire. We cannot provide any more details. It is a sensitive issue," he said when asked if it was a case of arson.
"We have asked all our fire stations to be on alert for such fires on religious premises," he told AFP.
Building erupted into flames
The High Court last week ruled in favour of the Catholic weekly, The Herald newspaper, which has used 'Allah' as a translation for "God" in its Malay-language section. The government has said the word should be used only by Muslims.
The ruling was suspended on Wednesday pending an appeal, after the government argued the decision could cause racial conflict in multicultural Malaysia, where Muslim Malays make up 60 percent of the population.
The security guard at the Metro Tabernacle church, 65-year-old V Mariappan, said he had just walked away from the main entrance of the building to use the bathroom when the building erupted in flames.
"When I came back, there was a huge fire inside the church building. There was a few loud explosions like bombs exploding," he said, adding he saw two motorcycle helmets lying on the road in flames.
The Herald'seditor Father Lawrence Andrew has warned of a campaign of intimidation including hacker attacks against the weekly's website, protest plans and widespread criticism in the media over last week's ruling.
"We believe these actions (are designed) to create a climate of fear and a perceived threat to national security so as to pressure the court in reversing its decision," he said this week.
More than half of Malaysia's Catholics are from indigenous groups, most of whom live in Sabah and Sarawak and who mainly speak Bahasa Malaysia.
To my brethren believers:
The UMNO-led govt of Malaysia has taken off their gloves. They are now openly endorsing and encouraging the demonisation and persecution of minorities, including Christians who have always been subservient to govt restrictions and encroachments.UMNO and their agents are blatantly lying when they say that Malaysian Christians intentionally publish the Bible in Malay using the name "Allah" to cheat Muslims out of the Islam faith.The fact is, these Malay language Bibles are published in Indonesia and imported into Malaysia with government approval!
UMNO is also lying when they made it look like the Catholics went to court to snatch "Allah" from the Muslims and the Christian judge Lau Bee Lan was part of the conspiracy to do so. The truth is that UMNO made the first move to ban the usage of "Allah" by Malay-speaking Catholics, and the Catholic Archbishop went to court to defend their rights!
The aggressor cries that the victim has done them wrong! And now, they have resorted to physically attack Christians!
Brothers and sisters in Christ, hold strong to our faith and the teachings of our Lord. The Lord Jesus had already predicted this in John 15:20-21:
"Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me."
Brothers and sisters in Christ, it's now time to walk the talk. This is the test of our discipleship - can we be truly like Jesus?
"Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.' " Luke 23-34
"On the contrary: 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.' " Romans 12:20
Let us all remember and live out the words of the Bible:
"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well." Mathhew 5:38-40
"That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:10
"God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels." 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7
"Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life." Revelations 2:10
Brothers and sisters in Christ, we must stand by our Catholic brethren and support them because they too are part of the Body of Christ!
"Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised." Hebrews 10:32-36
We cannot close our eyes just because they are a different church from us. If we do choose to close our eyes, then when the persecutors come for us then do not be surprised when nobody is there to stand with us then!
And if you are not a non-Muslim non-Christian: don't think this doesn't involve you. This is NOT a Muslim vs Christian issue. This is an UMNO vs non-UMNO issue. UMNO will get rid of whoever they think is in their way and they will exploit whoever they think will help them stay in power. They do not care who gets hurt of even killed - after all, wasn't it them who started the May13 massacre so that they could get rid of the Tunku?
Their persecution of the Catholics now fall into the second category. What's to stop them from persecuting other communities to exploit the political benefits?
All of us have to stand up to this damn bully and show them we are not afraid!
Or are we going to tuck our tails again like beaten dogs and vote the bastards back into power again next GE and let them rape this nation until all your children inherit is a bankrupt nation in the same leagues of Rwanda and Zimbabwe?