KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 26 — Herald Malaysia, the local Catholic Church’s news website, was disabled by attacks today on the heels of a strongly-worded statement from Archbishop Emeritus Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam urging Putrajaya to drop its case against “Allah” for Christians.
Herald editor, Rev. Father Lawrence Andrew, confirmed today the site was hacked, and suspects the attack may be related to remarks made yesterday by Pakiam during the Christmas tea party organised by the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) and which the retired archbishop hosted.
“I would imagine, after the statement from the Archbishop, some people may not have been happy,” he told The Malay Mail Online when contacted, before adding: “But I’m not sure about that.”
Andrew declined to elaborate until he receives the full report from the Herald’s website administration team, which is based in India.
He said they had traced the attack to an Indian company, but noted the host server was located in the United States.
This is not the first time the Herald website has been attacked, the priest said.
“The first time was when judge Lau Bee Lan gave a verdict in our favour,” he said, referring to the landmark High Court judgment that ruled the Herald could publish the word “Allah” to refer to God in Christian context in the Bahasa Malaysia section of its newspaper as the Arabic term was not exclusive to Muslims.
Lau had delivered the judgment in the High Court on December 31, 2009.
“That was a New Year gift, this time was on Christmas day,” Andrew said.
The website was inaccessible when The Malay Mail Online visited it at about 8am today, displaying only a three-word text on the page: “emma was here”.
The website then went to reduced functionality mode, showing only the headlines of December 24 and several pictures, which were mainly of Pope Francis.
By 2pm, the Herald website was restored to its regular service.
In a rare moment of frustration yesterday, Pakiam asked the prime minister to cement his own call for an end to Muslim-Christian hostility by withdrawing Putrajaya’s legal challenge against the Catholic Church’s use of “Allah”.
While the church won its case at the High Court, the Court of Appeal reversed the decision in October this year when it decided the Arabic word was “not integral” to the Christian faith.
Pakiam, who is currently the administrator of the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur, was responding to Najib’s earlier speech at the National Christmas Open House in George Town, Penang—also yesterday—in which the latter called for followers of the two faiths to set aside their differences and instead seek common ground.
The religious row has drawn deep lines between Malaysia’s non-Muslim minorities and its 60 per cent Muslim population, with the Federal Court fixing February 24 next year to hear the Catholic Church’s application for appeal.