Najib calls for calm after Penang church attack


(MM) – Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today called for calm after reports of firebombs attacks on a church in Penang early this morning.

Local daily The Star reported today that The Church of Assumption on Lebuh Farquhar was attacked in the early hours of this morning after a controversial banner with the word “Allah” was found outside the church.

“I also hope that no one will react to the attacks or make matters worse, let the authorities take any further action,” he told reporters.

“This is the time for us to keep calm and not say hasty things in any event, because it can bring harm to our country,” he added.

The prime minister also told authorities to prevent further repeats of the incident, warning that the provocation endangered the ties between the country’s multi-racial and multi-religious communities.

“I have always said as the government, we prioritise peace and harmony, and will do whatever we can to maintain peace and harmony based on the enforcement of rule of law in our country,” he said today.

This morning, The Church of the Assumption in Lebuh Farquhar, Penang was targeted with two Molotov cocktails, believed to be in response to the appearance of banners proclaiming, “Jesus is the son of Allah”, near the main building of the church.

The banner was found outside the premises of the church and outside four other churches in the state. All five churches denied responsibility for the banners.

Tempers continue to simmer over the so-called “Allah” row that remains unresolved four years after it shocked the nation and led to the worst religious strife in the country’s history.

Tensions were particularly heightened in Penang, where protesters at an Umno-organised rally earlier this month were reported to have held up banners threatening a recurrence of the deadly May 13, 1969 racial riots over an alleged slight by an opposition lawmaker against the prime minister.

The ongoing legal dispute between the government and the Catholic Church on the latter’s right to print the word “Allah” in its weekly Herald lies pending at the Federal Court, where a hearing for the Catholic Church’s leave for appeal is fixed on March 5.