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4 more Muslims charged in Malaysia church attacks

4 more Muslims charged in Malaysia church attacks

A Malaysian court charged four more Muslims on Tuesday with attacking churches in a row over the use of the word "Allah" by Christians.
Three men and a teenager were charged in northern Perak state with throwing firebombs at two churches and a convent school on Jan. 10, prosecutor Hamdan Hamzah said. They face a maximum prison term of 20 years.
The three men, aged 19, 21 and 28, pleaded not guilty, while the 17-year-old, charged in a juvenile court, pleaded guilty to the offense. His case will next be heard on March 24, Hamdan said.
Three other Muslims were charged last week with setting fire to a church on Jan. 8, the first and most serious incident in a series of attacks and vandalism at churches, a Sikh temple, mosques and Muslim prayer rooms.
The attacks have underscored religious tensions in the country, where minority Buddhists, Christians and Hindus complain they regularly face discrimination.
The latest tensions follow a High Court ruling on Dec. 31 that allowed the Herald, the main newspaper of the Roman Catholic Church in Malaysia, to use "Allah" in its Malay-language pages. Allah is the word for God in Malay, the same as in Arabic.
The ruling upset some Muslims who believe "Allah" should be exclusive to Islam. The government has appealed the verdict, arguing the use of "Allah" by non-Muslims is confusing.
Some 60 percent of 28 million Malaysians are ethnic Malay Muslims. Much of the rest are ethnic Chinese and Indians, who mostly practice Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism.


Updated : 2021-05-12 03:00 GMT+08:00