There’s a certain irony in the fact that Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak traveled to Saudi Arabia, of all places, within 24 hours of his administration’s threat to use draconian measures to quell religious violence. His absence during a crisis is a mistake, as is his government’s approach to it so far.
The “Allah” scandal is the most serious domestic challenge the Najib government has yet faced in its nine months in office. Since a High Court ruling two weeks ago allowed Christians to use the word “Allah” in their Malay-language publications, radical Islamists have capitalized on the fraught climate to intimidate Malaysians and push their agenda. Yesterday saw the 11th in a spate of incidents, with Molotov cocktails, bricks and stones hurled against churches, a convent school, and even a Sikh temple. Lawyers representing Christian plaintiffs have found their offices ransacked. No perpetrators have yet been caught.
So far, the ruling United Malays National Organization is trying to tramp down the violence in any way it can””except the right way, which is to abandon the hardline Islamism that has traditionally appealed to its political base….