A kick in the teeth for Malaysia

(Free Malaysia Today) – Nine days into the new year, Malaysia  made news around the world for haggling over the usage of the word  “Allah.”

With it came a kick in the teeth for the country  once perceived as a peaceful and tolerant nation sung to the tune of Malaysia Truly Asia.
The image of nation took another bashing  from the publicity generated by international news agencies and news publications.
From AP to AFP, Aljazeera and Reuters, Time, Times Online and various other prestigious news organisations highlighted the story of how three Malaysian churches were firebombed on Friday – all because of a God word.
The arson attacks were apparently provoked by a court ruling allowing Christians to continue using the word to denote their God when speaking in Bahasa Malaysia. The judge ruled that preventing them doing so would be to go against the constitution that guarantees freedom of religion and speech.
The Herald, a Catholic newspaper published in Malaysian, won the appeal last week against a ruling that banned use of the word by Christians. But the the Government has appealed the ruling and ban remains until a decision is made on the latest appeal.
Though the attacks were condemned by government and opposition leaders and Muslim clerics alike, several people appeared to have given a sly wink to mischief makers when they said they could not stop people from protesting the ruling.
On Friday Muslims demonstrated in scores of mosques across the country and the protest turned out to be peaceful.
However, the  fallout for Umno under Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his ruling Barisan Nasional coalition is massive judging from the reports that reverberated around the world.
It also reflects to the outside world the growing Islamisation in a multi-religious and racial society  following the sentencing last year of a woman to be caned for drinking beer in public.