Friday News Roundup: Tensions rise in Malaysia

Muslim/Christian violence is in the news again. Last week we wrote about the deadly conflict in Nigeria (read on for an update), and this week it’s the interethnic conflict in Malaysia.

Also, France approved a partial ban of burqas, and another Oregon faith healing case made headlines.

First, a quick update on Nigeria. Things are finally calming down after weeks of violence that left hundreds dead and thousands displaced. Business is picking up and people are returning to their normal activities. BBC reports that hundreds of text messages were sent to fuel the violence.  A Nigerian scholar weighs in on the conflict.

Now onto Malaysia. As you may have heard, on New Year’s Eve the high court overturned a law that prevented non-Muslims from using the word “Allah” for “God.” In the past few weeks, things have gotten ugly. Though non-Muslim Malay speakers have been use the word “Allah” since the ’20s, in 2007 the Home Ministry prohibited the Catholic monthly the Herald from using “Allah” to signify the Christian God. Catholics took the matter to court and won.

Well, some were not pleased and violence ensued. Ten churches were attacked around the country with molotov cocktails, stones and paint. Christians responded by putting severed pigs’ heads (pigs are considered unclean by Muslims) in mosques in Kuala Lumpur. Though no charges have been filed for the latter, three Muslim men were arrested for the firebombing of a church.

The Wall Street Journal and The Nation weigh in.

President Sarkozy’s crusade against the burqa is close to becoming law.  A 32-member, multi-party panel has approved a partial ban on full veils that would make them illegal in all places of public services, including on public transport. The panel’s endorsement will now move to Parliament for debate. The idea of a ban began last July (check out an older post for stories on the topic) when Sarkozy announced that burqas were not welcome in France. Though the government is wary of alienating its Muslim population, its is also fiercely protective of France’s tradition of secularism. Stay tuned for Parliament’s decision.  The New York Times reports.

Oregon is in the news yet again for a faith healing case (we talked about other cases back in July and August). Closing arguments began this morning in the case of Jeff and Marci Beagley, who are accused of criminally negligent homicide for allowing their 16-year-old son to die of a urinary tract blockage. The Beagleys are members of Followers of Christ, a denomination that follows faith healing.  The Oregonian weighs in on this case and others.

As always, you can find more headlines on our website. Have a great weekend and I’ll see you next week!