Church attacks in Malaysia

Several Christian churches were attacked in Malaysia following a Kuala Lumpur High Court ruling which overturned the government directive banning non-Muslims from using the word Allah in their teachings and publications. The court recognized the right of Malay Christians to use the word ‘Allah’ when referring to the Christian God. This ruling generated an intense reaction in the Muslim-dominated country.

Zainol Abideen recognizes the right of the people to protest the court decision but rejects the use of violence

As a citizen, I am very concerned and sad that it has come to this.

Protesting against the court decision is one thing; going around destroying churches is plainly criminal and those culprits must be tracked down and made to pay according to the laws of this land.

There is no room in the teachings of Al Islam for such desecration's of another's house of prayer or place of worship.

Instead of resorting to firebombing churches, those who are not happy with the High Court's decision should engage in sharing the reasons why Non Muslims are wrong to name objects of their worship apart from Allah as Him!

Straight Talk blames racial politics for the series of church attacks

The main cause which has triggered the protest is the race affirmative policy practised by the current government. It is unfortunate that the Malay supremacy concept propagated and implemented by the ruling regime is also trying to make Islam and the use of ‘Allah’ an exclusive domain.

For the protesters, Islam is synonymous to Malay supremacy. It has to be exclusive and above the rest. This perception is both misguided and un-Islamic. Islam is universal and inclusive. It is compassionate and not hostile.

Another prime reason for the protest is the inferiority complex of some Muslim Malays. The lack of confidence in their own Islamic faith is reflected in the argument that the use of ‘Allah’ by Christians in East Malaysia may generate confusion amongst Muslims and spark unnecessary apostasy.

…the right remedy to address this issue in the long term is to end racial politics. It is unfortunate that a serious national debate on how to end racial politics has failed to materialize even after experiencing some negative repercussions of it.

Malaysians must come together to end this ethno-religious political hegemony and work on a more inclusive and civilised politics. accuses parties and individuals who want to sow chaos in the country

Truly this is the work of hate and evil.

Once again, the issue has long departed from being one of religious differences.

This has clearly transitioned into an issue of select parties or individuals who are bent on creating chaos in the country.

No true Muslim, or any religious person, would attempt to defend his faith by such cowardly acts of violence – striking without daring to show their face.

I refuse, and I humbly feel you should too, to see this as some Muslim vs Christian or Muslim vs others conflict. To do so would be to fall for exactly the trap that they are laying out for us.

Malaysia Today publishes a post which speculates about a covert agenda to “stoke the fire of religious conflict”

…we must think of the psyche of the actors involved, the issues at stake, and whether there is a covert agenda to stoke the fire of religious conflict. What is their motive and what drove them to such acts of barbarism? Did they do it independently or were they paid or are they part of a bigger scheme of things to come? What are the authorities doing to unravel more information? Are investigations providing any leads?

…they appear to be more brazen and spreading their wings to different parts of the country so to speak. Thus it is clear the threats from the authorities have not been effective deterrents as they continue to be brazen and merciless in their attacks. Many wonder if ever these incidents will pan off. A lot would depend on the political will of the leaders.

Dr Lim Teck Ghee believes this is the work of bigoted leaders

This was a part of the political calculus of racist and religiously bigoted leaders to drive home to their opponents that they can at any time incite their followers to whatever actions necessary to demonstrate their might and power.

This will continue to be a burning fuse kept alight by extremists feeding the public the delusion that Islam in Malaysia is faced by all kinds of imaginary enemies.

Capt. Iskandar Dzulkarnain appeals to Christian authorities not to use the word Allah until the next elections

I would like to appeal to the Council of Churches, to convene and make a declaration to the world, and to our government, that for the sake of national unity and peace, that Christians nationwide, will momentarily halt the usage of the word Allah, at least…..ah…. until the next election. Malaysians, will thank you one day for your sacrifice to the nation.

Kaytee wonders why the Christian group which sued the government is not using the other names of the Christian God like Elohim or Yahweh

What is really your goal in obdurately pursuing the use of the word `Allah’ to refer to the Christian God in a Malay-language newsletter and Bible when so many other names of your Christian God, with even better biblical pedigree, remain available?

Nuraiana A Samad is also asking the insistence to use the word Allah

whether or not i agree that the herald should be allowed to use the word, is unimportant.
they have gone to court and a decision has been made.

for me, i am simply wondering why the insistence on wanting to use the word “Allah”.

that's all.

Like, why do you want to use the word “Allah”?
really. why?

anas zubedy reminds fellow Muslims about the discrimination suffered by Christian leaders in Malaysia

We Muslims must understand the frustration our Christian brothers and sisters have been going through all these years when dealing with the Government.

In this frustration they retaliated by going to the courts, perhaps to get back at us or just to prove a point. I think these feelings are the real motivation behind the legal redress, not that they are really deeply and are so spirited to call God, Allah.

On the other hand, the blogger also reminds the Christians about the feelings of Muslims who are opposing the use of the word Allah by non-Muslims in Malaysia

The Christians must understand that while the Quran has no issues about Allah as the universal name of God, the Malay’s understanding and emotional attachment to the word Allah is unique to the Malaysian world. Rightly or wrongly, your Muslim brothers and sisters are deeply hurt as they perceive that you are doing this with bad intentions – to convert their fellow faithful as they do not see you actively wanting to also change all the other Bible translations like English or Chinese making the word Allah a universal name for God.


  • These are just signs of extremism. I believe that we must learn to be tolerant for opinions and views of other people and minorities. We all are from different backgrounds but we must unite as of now to fight against the cancer of extremism as it will only lead to divide us.

  • […] of the word “Allah” to refer to the Christian god in a Malaysian language bible.  There was ambivalence within the government as it initially banned the use of the word, yet its ruling was ove….  The conflict did materialize into actual hostilities as Christian churches were vandalized or […]

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices!

Submitted addresses will be confirmed by email, and used only to keep you up to date about Global Voices and our mission. See our Privacy Policy for details.

Newsletter powered by Mailchimp (Privacy Policy and Terms).

* = required field
Email Frequency

No thanks, show me the site