Cops on alert over bible-burning threat

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Kuala Lumpur -

A top official in northern Malaysia on Thursday sought the help of police in stopping an alleged plan to burn Bibles printed in the local language and using the word “Allah.”

The Penang state government would do all it could to stop a Bible-burning festival planned Sunday by a group called the Anti-Bible Bahasa Melayu (Anti-Malay Bible Action Force) in Butterworth, 290 kilometres north-west of Kuala Lumpur, said Lim Guan Eng, Penang's chief minister.

Lim, an opposition leader, called the festival a “vile and abhorrent act that is a sacrilege to religious respect and freedom.”

Authorities in Malaysia, where 60 percent of the more than 29 million people are Muslim, have prohibited non-Muslims from using the word “Allah” since 2007 to prevent Muslims from being converted to other faiths.

A Catholic publication challenged the ban in court, and in December 2009, the Kuala Lumpur High Court ruled that the use of the word “Allah” is not exclusive to Islam.

The decision triggered attacks on some Christian churches and protests by Muslims throughout Malaysia.

The Home Ministry appealed the decision and is awaiting a ruling. In the meantime, state leaders have issued edicts that prohibit non-Muslims from using the world “Allah.”

On Christmas Day, Lim urged the federal government to lift the ban on the use of “Allah” for non-Muslims, triggering renewed debate on the issue. His Muslim allies in the opposition have disagreed with him.

Ibrahim Ali - a member of Parliament and leader of the Malay rights group Perkasa, which is closely linked with the government - urged Muslims to burn any copies of Malay Bibles that they could get their hands on.Author: John Grafilo - Sapa-dpa

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