By Syed Jaymal Zahiid
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 21 — Two suraus in Muar, Johor were damaged in suspected arson attacks early this morning, weeks after similar attacks against churches, believed to be linked to the controversial “Allah” ruling.
Police found traces of kerosene in the Sirratulrahim Surau in Kampung Sabak Awor, Jalan Ismail which had a window and curtains burnt, while the Parit Beting surau suffered worse damage.
“There is a black mark on the door,” Muar Deputy OCPD Lee Choon Guan told The Malaysian Insider when contacted at the Parit Beting surau. Apart from the door, he said a carpet and windows were scorched. Stones were also reportedly thrown at the building.
The police forensics team is now taking evidence the surau.
Lee said police are cautious in linking the incident to a spate of attacks on houses of worship over the divisive “Allah” ruling.
“My forensic team found traces of splashed kerosene so it may have originated from outside the surau’s compound,” he said at the scene of the first attack.
Lee’s superior, Muar OCPD Mohammed Nasir Ramli, had earlier refused to confirm if the first incident was a result of an arson attempt.
He told The Malaysian Insider that the Sirratulrahim Surau had suffered minor damages in the pre-dawn blaze.
“We are still investigating... we don’t know if it was attacked, we can’t say that. Let the police do its investigations first,” he said in a phone interview.
The Muar police chief said three youths from the area had discovered the damage at about 3am and reported it to the police.
The Johor police are expected to release an official statement later this evening.
Nine churches, a mosque, a surau, a Sikh temple and a convent school have been damaged by fire, paint or stones since Jan 8.
Police obtained a seven-day remand order yesterday for eight youths arrested in connection with the first attack on the Metro Tabernacle church, on Jan 8. Two were brothers who suffered burns said to be a result of the attack. Another person detained is their uncle.
The attacks came in the wake of the Dec 31, 2009 High Court ruling that allowed Catholic weekly Herald to use the term “Allah” to describe the Christian God in their Bahasa Malaysia section. The government has appealed against the decision and obtained a stay of execution.
In a statement today, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng condemned “the destructive behaviour of the perpetrator of such irresponsible attacks, who clearly intended to provoke suspicions among our multi-racial and multi-religious communities”.
“We urge the police to step up its investigation and monitoring mechanism to bring the perpetrators to justice, and to prevent any further similar incident from happening in order to safeguard our harmonious way of life,” the Penang chief minister said.