Several Churches (over 7 at the last count) are being firebombed by irate muslims who say they are protesting a Court ruling, on 31st December, that allows that non-muslims may use the Arabic word, Allah, to refer to God in the Malayan language. In 2007 the Government had banned such use, but the catholic newspaper, the Herald, which has several publications in Malayan challenged the government’s order in court. Although the government immediately indicated it would appeal the Court verdict overturning its order, the ubiquitous “Islamic extremists” are already taking the law into their own hands.
Christian groups in Malaysia argue that Allah is an Arabic name for God which predates Islam whereas Malaysian Muslims contend that the word should only be used by Muslims. Their fear, as articulated by the government, is that “making Allah synonymous with God may confuse Muslims and ultimately mislead them into converting to Christianity”.
Ordinarily, the Allah ban is unusual in the Muslim world. The Arabic word is commonly used by Christians to describe God in many countries including Egypt, Syria and Indonesia. In fact, in countries like Nigeria, ironically, it is Christians that are suggesting that Allah is a proper name for the God of Islam and should not be used as a generic name for the God of the Bible, Jehovah.(see
www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread188676/pg1 and also http://churcharise.blogspot.com/2008/01/do-moslems-themselves-believe-they.html, http://churcharise.blogspot.com/2008/02/eminent-christian-signatories-back-out.html,
Thankfully, many Muslims in Malaysia have condemned the firebombings, and Prime Minister Najib Razak, during a visit to one of the worst-hit churches, the Metro Tabernacle, announced a grant of $147,000 for rebuilding it at a new location . This gesture has been described as a major concession in a country where permission is rarely given for building new churches or temples. (www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/09/AR2010010900345.html). The government of Nigeria can learn some lesson about sincerity from that!