Now, suraus attacked: What is happening to our country?

Pakatan Rakyat leaders have condemned the arson attacks against two Muslim prayer houses or surau in Muar, Johor, demanding that Prime Minister Najib Razak and his administration take immediate action to put an end to the series of violence against places of worship in the country. 

By Wong Choon Mei, Harakah

“What has happened to our country? This is insane and it has spun out of control. The government-of-the-day needs to take immediate remedial action because we are just a step away from lighting a powder keg,” Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, PAS strategist, told Harakahdaily.

“Someone seems to be deliberately sowing the seeds of distrust and this is a very dangerous trend because it will destroy our society and all the good values that we believe in, share and built together.”

Moderate Malaysia now under siege

According to Muar deputy police chief Lee Choon Guan, the attacks happened in the wee hours of Thursday morning and within an hour of each other. The first surau to be hit was at Kampung Sabok Awor at around 3am, while the next in Kampung Parit Beting, some two kilometers away, was attacked 45 minutes later.

The surau at Parit Beting was more severely damaged, with the carpeting, some walls, doors and windows set to fire by arsonists, who apparently used kerosene. The Sabak Awor surau escaped with just its curtains burnt.

“The DAP strongly condemns the destructive behaviour of the perpetrators of such irresponsible attacks who clearly intend to provoke suspicion among our multi-racial and multi-religious communities,” DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng said in a special statement.

“Our culture of religious tolerance and harmony is now under siege by irresponsible political warlords out to create hostility for their own ulterior motives. We condemn in the strongest terms these cowardly attacks on our cherished places of worship, be they Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu or Sikh,” Ronnie Klassen, a Church activist and PKR leader told Harakahdaily.

Since the December 31, 2009, court ruling that over-turned a ban on non-Muslims using the word Allah to describe God, there has been intense debate over the issue. Umno leaders, who spearheaded a massive ‘Allah For Muslims Only’ campaign via both electronic and traditional media have been blamed for giving religious zealots the cue to go on rampage.

Since January 8, 10 churches, a Catholic school and a 100-year old Sikh temple have been attacked either by fire-bombs or vandalism. The two surau in Muar are the first two Muslim places of worship to be hit by arsonists.

Just a day ago, the police had arrested eight Malay youths for hurling Molotov cocktails at the Metro Tabernacle Church in Kuala Lumpur, remanding them for a week. But no charges have been preferred yet and their identities are still unrevealed.

“The police in particular must make a more concerted effort to put an end to this series of attacks. The public is demoralized and no one can understand why the police cannot act more effectively and stop this very unhealthy and dangerous trend,” said Salahuddin Ayub, PAS vice president.
“The question that must surely be on the minds of the majority of Malaysians is whether Najib is in control of the situation and why isn’t he?,” said Dr Dzulkefly. “Despite advice from leaders all round to initiate confidence-instilling moves such as an immediate inter-faith dialogue to re-establish the good feelings between the races, he has not acted.

“Both the Prime Minister and the Home Minister (Hishammuddin Hussein) must take full responsibility. The blame falls squarely on them for openly encouraging mass demonstrations and opening the floodgates to this spate of gang-sponsored-terrorism. Now, they and their advisers don’t seem to know what to do and this is why the crisis is worsening. Neither they nor the culprits must be allowed to get off scot-free,” he added.