By Mike Bouwer, Worthy News Correspondent.
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA (Worthy News)-- Two Muslims have been sentenced to five years imprisonment by a Malaysian court for torching a Protestant church, Worthy News has learned on August 13.
SENTENCE HANDED DOWN
Religious tension increased after a December 2009 court ruling in Malaysia, which said a Roman Catholic newspaper could use the word "Allah" in its publications to describe the Christian God was upheld.
The attack on the Metro Tabernacle Church in Kuala Lumpur was the first in a series of attacks in which eleven churches, three mosques, Muslim prayer rooms and a Sikh temple were attacked since the court ruling was handed down.
The arson attack took place after the ruling, as Muslims rejected the court's decision that non Muslims may use the word Allah in Malay language publications. The opponents fear that using the word Allah in Malay language publications may "confuse" Muslims into converting to Christianity.
ATTACKS THREAT TO FREEDOM OF RELIGION
The attacks threatened the religious harmony in a country of 28 million, two thirds of which are Muslim. The two brothers' defense was described by the court as deceitful and judge Komathy Suppiah, was quoted as saying, "You have shamed the society and country. ... The message from this court must be loud and clear: Don't play with fire."
The men, who were apprehended after one of them required help for burn injuries, in which the defendants told the court that the burns had been suffered at a barbecue later in the evening.
In delivering the 5 year sentence the judge allowed the men to go free on bail until their appeal is heard.
COUNCIL OF CHURCHES RESPONSE
A spokesman with the Council of Churches of Malaysia praised the court's decision as a reminder that violence against religious places, no matter what the religion, would not be accepted, and that the sentence was an indication that the majority of Malaysians are "peace loving".
Ethnic Chinese and Indians in Malaysia practice Buddhism, Christianity or Hinduism, and have complained about discrimination in the past, which the Malaysian government has denied.