Malaysia arrests four over pig skulls outside mosque

AFP , Tuesday 3 Jan 2012

Placing pigs and pork outside a mosque is considered an offence against Muslims in a country where Islam is the largest practiced religion

Four people have been arrested and another is being sought regarding the discovery of pig skulls and pork outside a mosque last week Malaysian police said Tuesday.

Mokhtar Mohammad Shariff, Southern Johor state police chief, told AFP that the four had been arrested after officials found four pig skulls and pork outside the rear fence and front entrance of the Al-Falah mosque last Friday.

"We are still carrying out investigations and are on the lookout for a 40-year-old man who can help us in our investigations," he said.

Pigs and pork products are considered unclean by Malaysia's majority Muslim Malays and the placing of pork outside the mosque appeared to be an attempt at offending Muslims in a country that has large ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities.

The incident triggered memories of a spate of attacks on places of worship two years ago, after a row over the use of the word "Allah" by non-Muslims that saw violence against 11 churches, a mosque and two Muslim prayer halls.

The places of worship were pelted with Molotov cocktails, stones and paint in tensions triggered by a December 2009 court ruling that overturned a ban on non-Muslims using the word "Allah" as a translation for "God.”

The "Allah" issue is still in the courts.

Muslim district religious leader Abdul Atan Awang downplayed the incident, saying that it was unlikely to have anything to do with the earlier controversy.

"Although the case is still being investigated, we suspect that this is more likely to be a dispute between some members of the local community and we urge everyone to stay calm until the real facts emerge," he said.

Christian leaders contacted by AFP said the incident appeared to be confined to a particular mosque and did not appear to be related to the "Allah" issue.

Religion and language are sensitive issues in multiracial Malaysia, which experienced deadly race riots in 1969.

The population is 60 per cent Muslim Malay, but also includes indigenous tribes as well as large ethnic Chinese and Indian communities -- practising Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism, among others.

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