Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said attacks on churches in his country were a "minor aberration" that did not reflect the feelings of most Malaysian Muslims, in an interview published on Sunday.
"This is a minor aberration. National unity and mutual respect between various racial and religious communities in Malaysia has been a cornerstone of Malaysia for a long time," he said in the interview with Okaz newspaper and published in its English-language sister, the Saudi Gazette.
"It should not be seen as a widespread attempt by the larger Muslim community to attack churches in Malaysia," he said.
Several churches in predominantly Muslim Malaysia have been attacked after a court ruled on December 31 that non-Muslims could use "Allah" as a translation for "God."
Nine churches were hit with Molotov cocktails, splashed with black paint and had windows smashed with stones, triggering tighter security at places of worship nationwide.
The offices of lawyers for Malaysia's Roman Catholic Church were also burgled and ransacked.
Najib downplayed the attacks.
"I would like to clarify that only one church was burnt and only its administrative portion was set ablaze," he told the Saudi newspaper.