And so it has come to this. Amid the tension between those who support — or at least do not oppose — and those who oppose the use of the term Allah by the Catholic Church in Malaysia, a church was torched by arsonists, as the initial reports go. I fear that this might not be the worst. In times like this, in the interest of protection of freedom, the rule of law is paramount.
It is in times like this that those who do not understand the rule of law, the limits of a person and the rights of others must face the full consequences of their transgression.
Rightful prosecution to the fullest extent of the law is not only justified, it is a must as to serve an important lesson to all. The snowball must be stopped dead in its track, if it is a snowball. Cautionary principle demands an action, regardless whether a snowball effect is in motion or not. Prudence must prevail in this matter.
The lesson is this: no matter how badly one detests the other, use of force is never an action for the first mover. It is not an option not just because there was no actual threat directed against the perpetrators, but also because physical threat on the perpetrators is not imminent.
One’s freedom is only up to the expression of that detestation and not an inch more. If one uses force to act on that detestation, as with the case with the burning of the church in Kuala Lumpur, then one must be prepared for a proper exaction of compensation by the state on oneself.
The door of legitimate state retaliation against the actual perpetrators of crime has now been opened. This is only on behalf of the victims. It is so as a matter of protection of rights, specifically right to property. And clearly, other rights too, such as right to life, if the transgressive momentum builds up. Attacks like this can easily be a life threatening case.
It is clear that the state cannot fail to carry out its responsibility. If the state fails to carry out this, it may open up the dangerous path of vigilantism.
Pray tell, even if that vigilantism were justified — in fact, sadly, it is in the case of failure — enough individuals would realize how far down the spiral would go to refrain from doing so.
 — KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – A church in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur was firebombed early on Friday, gutting the first storey of the building in a residential area, amid a row over the use of the word “Allah” for the Christian God.
“It is confirmed that Desa Melawati church was burnt, at about 12.25 am in the morning. There were no fatalities. We are investigating the incident and suspect foul play,” said Kuala Lumpur Chief Police Officer Mohammad Sabtu Osman.
A court ruling last week allowing Catholic newpaper The Herald to use “Allah” for the Christian God has been appealed by the government of the mainly Muslim nation of 28 million people.
The issue has threatened relations between the majority Malay Muslim population and the minority ethnic Chinese and Indian populations who practise a range of religions including Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism. [Malaysia Court Rules Catholic Paper Can Print ‘Allah’. Niluksi Koswanage. David Chance. Louise Ireland. Reuters. January 8 2010]