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Malaysia charges three over church attack

1/29/10 Malaysia (AFP) — Malaysia said Friday it has charged three men over a church firebombing, the first suspects to be indicted following a spate of attacks on places of worship that have escalated ethnic tension.

Deputy public prosecutor Anselm Charles Fernandis told AFP charges were filed against three dispatch riders for setting alight the Metro Tabernacle Church in a southern suburb of Kuala Lumpur on January 8.

“The three have been charged with causing mischief by fire by burning the building in which the church was located and all three pleaded not guilty,” he said.

The men — named as Azuwan Shah Ahmad and brothers Raja Mohamad Faizal Raja Ibrahim and Raja Mohamad Idzham — face up to 20 years in jail if convicted.

They are among 19 arrested over attacks on 11 churches, a mosque and two Muslim prayer halls.

Pig’s heads — considered unclean by Muslims — were dumped at two mosques in the latest incident on Wednesday.

Places of worship have been hit with Molotov cocktails, stones and paint following a December 31 court ruling that overturned a ban on non-Muslims using the word “Allah” to mean “God”.

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