Malaysian police make new arrests over church attacks
Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian police said on Saturday they had arrested seven more people over a spate of attacks on churches that have escalated ethnic tensions.
The violence, which saw 11 churches and two Muslim prayer halls targeted, was triggered by a court ruling that overturned a government ban on non-Muslims using the word "Allah" as a translation for "God".
Earlier this week eight people were detained over the first of the attacks, on a church in suburban Kuala Lumpur.
The seven new accused were arrested in raids yesterday and today over fire-bombings of a church and a convent school in northern Perak state on January 10.
"They are being investigated for throwing Molotov cocktails at the All Saints` Church and the convent school in Taiping," a senior Perak police official said on condition of anonymity, adding that the seven were all aged between 17 and 19.
Religion and language are sensitive issues in multi-racial Malaysia, which experienced deadly race riots in 1969.
The row over the use of "Allah" is among a string of religious disputes that have erupted in recent years, straining relations between Malays and minority ethnic Chinese and Indians who fear the country is being "Islamised."
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