Student held for bomb threat

2010-01-15 18:03

Kuala Lumpur - A Malaysian student was charged on Friday after allegedly posting comments on Facebook about setting off a gasoline bomb.

This comes amid a recent spate of attacks on churches, most of which were hit by Molotov Cocktails.

Mohamad Tasyrif Tajudin, 25, allegedly wrote, "You want me to throw a petrol (gasoline) bomb there? We can negotiate the price" in a recent Facebook discussion over the use of the word Allah by non-Muslims.

He was charged under the Communications and Multimedia Act for improper use of the Internet, which carries a penalty of up to a year in jail and a fine if found guilty, said deputy public prosecutor Dusuki Mokhtar.

"He was not the one who prepared the firebombs or committed the crime. But he misused Facebook with the intention to cause disturbance. Posting such remarks is sensitive and dangerous," Dusuki told The Associated Press.

Eight churches attacked

Mohamad Tasyrif didn't enter a plea and will remain in police custody as the case was postponed until Monday, he said.

Since January 8, unidentified attackers have hurled Molotov Cocktails at eight churches, one of which was partially gutted.

Two other churches were vandalised with paint and a Sikh temple was pelted with stones, apparently because Sikhs use the word Allah in their scriptures.

No arrests have been made in connection with the attacks.

The office of lawyers representing Christians in their legal fight for the right to use Allah was also ransacked.

Alienation of non-Muslims

The attacks followed a December 31 court decision overturning a government order that forbade a Catholic newspaper from using the word Allah as a translation for God in its Malay-language edition. The ruling upset many Muslims in Malaysia.

Malay Muslims comprise about 60% of the country's 28 million people, with 2.5 million Christians.

The dispute has hardened a long-standing sense of alienation among the non-Muslim minority, threatening 40 years of ethnic peace and stability that underpins Malaysia's economic success.

The government, which has appealed the High Court ruling, says Allah is exclusive to Islam and its use by Christians would mislead Muslims. The Christians say they have used the word for decades, and it is the only word they have for God in their language.

The government has condemned the attacks on the churches and has vowed to uphold the freedom of religion guaranteed to minorities by the constitution.