Najib: It’s not how the majority feels

(NST) RIYADH: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said arson attempts and vandalism at churches in Malaysia were a “minor aberration” that did not reflect the feelings of most Malaysian Muslims.

In an interview published yesterday, he said: “This is a minor aberration. National unity and mutual respect between various racial and religious communities in Malaysia has been a cornerstone of Malaysia for a long time.”

The interview with Okaz newspaper and was also published in its English-language sister publication, the Saudi Gazette.

“It should not be seen as a widespread attempt by the larger Muslim community to attack churches in Malaysia,” he said.

Several churches were vandalised after the High Court ruled on Dec 31 that the Catholic weekly, the Herald, could use the word “Allah”.

“I would like to clarify that only one church was burnt and only its administrative portion was set ablaze,” Najib told the Saudi newspaper.
“The others were minor incidents, which do not really constitute burning at all.

“And in some cases, various objects were reportedly thrown into the compounds of some churches.”

Najib also questioned a US travel advisory on Malaysia that warned of possible attacks on foreigners.

“I am quite surprised they came up with the travel advisory. We have no credible information regarding the perceived threat,” he said.

On Friday, the US State Department issued a travel alert advising Americans to “consider the risks associated with travel to eastern Sabah due to the threat from both terrorist and criminal groups”.

Najib was speaking while on a trip to Saudi Arabia, where he met King Abdullah and other top officials and visited educational institutions.