Malaysian Bishops Respond to Violence

Note Muslim Support; Say Root Is Politics, Not Religion

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, JAN. 12, 2010 ( Malaysian bishops are urging reconciliation in the wake of attacks against nine Christian churches over the weekend, and affirming the incidents stain the reputation of the country’s Muslim majority.

The prelates responded to attacks on three Catholic and six Protestant churches in a communiqué made public today by the Fides news agency. The prelates are beginning their plenary assembly of bishops from Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.

The assembly, planned some time ago, had to change its agenda completely in the wake of the violence.

Known as moderate
The bishops’ communiqué noted harmony between Islam and Christianity in Malaysia, and said the attacks stain the reputation of Malay Islam, «known for its moderation and its peaceful coexistence with other religions.»

In fact, Fides reported, moderate Muslim groups have organized watches in churches to prevent a repeat of the violence.
The communiqué stated Christians «are committed to do everything possible to keep calm, not to respond to the provocations, and to pray so that the violence will not spread.»

The attacks over the weekend come in the context of a Dec. 31 high court decision overturning a ban on Christian groups referring to God as Allah.

Both Christians and Muslims pointed to political motivations behind the violence.

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