Series of hate crimes taken out on temples and sacred idols have left Hindus in Malaysia much concerned about their safety. Reports of such vandals have been coming since early this year.
Minority Hindus from all around the world expressed concern as the spate of temple desecration in Penang became more frequent over the last month.
Here’s a quick glance at the vandals that have been reported.
Muthu Mariamman temple
Two statues of deities were vandalised the Muthu Mariamman temple in Ara Kuda early in July, prompting the temple committee considered installing CCTV cameras for security.
While nothing was stolen from the century-old temple, idols of Lord Muruga and Goddess Amman had been found smashed on the floor earlier in July.
The state government is said to have given RM 10,000 (around Rs 1,67,000) to the temple committee for the damage.
On July 13, police arrested a man on the charges of vadalising the temple.
Sri Madurai Veeran Temple
The Dewa Sri Madurai Veeran Temple at Sungai Nibong Kecil was found vandalised on July 3. Here, too, a statue of a deity worth over Rs 8,000 was damaged just before midnight.
Preliminary investigations revealed that the temple was not being used for religious rituals at the time, and its committee had been served with a notice to vacate the area, as it was located on private land.
Kuil Sri Muniswarar
Priests came in to find signs of a break-in at this temple located in Jalan Baru. Idols of Ganesh, Sivalingam and the main deity Munisverar were found to be damaged with “a sharp object.”
Deputy Chief Minister Dr P Ramasamy said the padlocked grilles of the nearly 70-years-old temple had been prised open. The trunk and arms of the granite Ganesh idol, and the serpent on the Sivalingam statute had been smashed.
“The damage is not extensive but once it’s broken we can’t use the statue again,” said Ramasamy.
Statues of deities at the Kuil Sri Muniswarar at Jalan Tunku Kudin were reported to have been broken around July 10.
Sri Veera Muniswarar Alayam Hindu temple
A statue at the Sri Veera Muniswarar Alayam Hindu temple in Petaling Jaya, Old Town, was reported to have been vandalised on July 20. The Star Online reported that a devotee walked in to find the Nagama snake statue inside shattered.
With no CCTV installed in the temple, investigation into the matter became difficult. Nonetheless, the temple committee lodged a police report.
Reaction to the vandals
Almost eight per cent of Malaysia’s 29 million population comprises of ethnic Indians, most of whom are Hindu Tamils. With at least four temples being vandalised and no items being stolen, it is apparent that these attacks are triggered by “Hinduphobia”.
Speaking to Free and Independent, Ramasamy said, “The pertinent question is why have four Hindu temples been damaged in a short span of two months, in Penang alone? Are there some forces trying to destabilise Penang? Could this be an IS-inspired attack?”
Hindu Stateman Rajan Zed urged Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to ‘to come up with an effective strategy to put an end to such reported desecration of religious centers in the country’.
Building a wall to hide a temple
The Chakra reports that the Malaysian government had plans of building a 700m wide wall around a temple in January, which would hide it from the view of drivers on the highway adjacent to it.
However, the temple in question was not named.
In 2009, a group of about 50 men had marched with severed cow heads to protest against the construction of a Hindu temple in Malaysia. The march triggered tension among the communities during that time, resulting in six of the protesters being arrested.