KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 14 — The St Elizabeth Catholic church in Kota Tinggi, Johor, was vandalised this morning, with red paint splashed on its walls. This makes it the ninth church hit by firebombs, arson attempts or vandalism in the past week.
Before today’s incident, eight Christian churches and a convent school in Selangor, Perak, Malacca, Negri Sembilan and Sarawak had been hit so far in the attacks following the Dec 31, 2009 High Court decision allowing the Catholic Church’s Herald to use the word “Allah.”
On Tuesday, a glass sliding door to the entrance of a Sikh Temple in Sentul here was found cracked from a barrage of stones, making it the first non-Christian house of worship hit since the controversial landmark “Allah” ruling.
The Sikhs also use the term to describe God in their Punjabi language and had unsuccessfully sought to be part of the Roman Catholic Church’s legal suit to use the name, a move that has sparked the anger of Muslims in Malaysia who claim it is exclusive to them.
So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the acts of violence and the authorities have urged the public not to speculate over the attacks.
The worst hit church so far has been the Metro Tabernacle church here, which had its ground floor gutted last week.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has said the situation was under control and the attacks were isolated incidents.
He also vowed to use the Internal Security Act (ISA), which allows for detention without trial, against those who stoke religious tension.
Yesterday, Deputy Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar revealed that police now have a lead on the “physical attributes” of the suspects in last Friday’s firebombing attack on the Metro Tabernacle Church in Taman Desa Melawati here.