Malaysian government prosecutors have charged three men with allegedly attacking a church with a firebomb.

They are the first suspects to be taken to court in connection to a string of assaults on places of worship amid a dispute over whether non-Muslims can use the word “Allah” to refer to God.

Government lawyer Anselm Charles Fernandis says the three suspects pleaded innocent in a Kuala Lumpur district court on Friday to starting a fire that partially gutted a Protestant church on January 8.

The suspects, in their 20s, face a maximum prison sentence of up to 20 years if convicted. The court did not immediately schedule a trial date.

Eleven churches were attacked in the past three weeks, mainly involving firebombs that caused minor damage.

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