Stones hurled at Sentul Sikh temple

(The Malaysian Insider) – A sliding glass door to the entrance of a Sikh Temple in Sentul here was found cracked late yesterday by 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 to the anger of Muslims in Malaysia who claim it is exclusive to them.

Eight Christian churches and a convent school in Selangor, Perak, Malacca, Negri Sembilan and Sarawak have been hit since Jan 8 in attacks linked to the Dec 31 High Court decision that has provoked Muslim outrage.

The stoning of  the Sikh temple or gurdwara in Jalan Haji Salleh near the former Sentul Railway Yard comes a week before Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib makes a three-day official visit to India on Jan 19 to meet his counterpart Manmohan Singh, a Sikh himself, and reflects the government’s struggle to contain the issue and keep it from spiraling out of control.

Kuala Lumpur police chief Datuk Muhammad Sabtu Osman confirmed the incident when contacted by Bernama news agency.

During the incident, he said, several volunteers who were busy cleaning the temple witnessed stones flying into its main entrance and immediately alerted the police.

Some 20 stones were thrown from outside the temple compound, he said, adding that police had retrieved the stones and were carrying out further investigations.

The Sikh temple officials have appealed for calm in the wake of the attack.

They are an important minority among the Indians who form seven per cent of the 28 million population.

In the earlier attacks against Christian churches, the perpetrators had used firebombs, stones and paint with the worst hit being the Metro Tabernacle church in Desa Melawati which was partially gutted.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein was on TV3 last night saying 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.

Hishammuddin, who is Najib’s cousin and also son of a former prime minister like Najib, also praised the maturity of Malaysians for not being baited to respond in the string of attacks.

The Christian community, who form 9.1 per cent of the population, have responded with prayers for peace and unity, Muslims form nearly 60 per cent of Malaysia.

The government has said it will hold private inter-faith dialogues to discuss the issue while the opposition have called for a state interfaith council to solve touchy religious issues in the multiracial country.