Indonesia fundamentalism rises

February 17, 2013 by  
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Islamic Religious Groups Demonstrate Against Catholic Church

JakartaIndonesia, February 15, 2013: A protest by members of a religious forum that has called on the government to shut down a Catholic church in Tambora, West Jakarta, was staged peacefully on Friday afternoon.

Hundreds of members of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and the Duri Selatan Mosque Forum rallied against the Bunda Hati Kudus Foundation’s plan to convert the social facilities of the Damai school complex into a place of worship.

The protesters came to the school on Friday afternoon and staged a peaceful protest and oration for 30 minutes before continuing their journey to City Hall.

Nandar, the protest coordinator for the Duri Selatan Mosque Forum, urged the leaders of the church to stop the establishment of any church within the school complex, and spoke out against the use of any building within the complex for any church-related activities.

“They should have followed the rules, they can’t provoke the local residents by giving away free stuff every month just to get approval to build a church. The construction of this church must be stopped,” he said.

Some representatives from FPI and the Duri Selatan Mosque Forum were allowed to enter the school complex on Friday to hold a dialogue with the church’s leader, Pastor Matheus Widyolestari. Police officers were in attendance for the discussion.

One of the protesters handed out a stack of copies of ID cards, claiming they were from people who rejected the church’s construction.

The local government has been trying to mediate the conflict involving religious figures from both sides since November 2007. But so far, they have failed to reach an agreement.

Pastor Antonius Benny Susetyo, executive secretary of the Commission of the Indonesian Bishops Conference, told the Jakarta Globe that the protesters misunderstood the problem.

He said that the protesters thought the church used the social facilities of the Damai school complex as a service venue.

“It is a church, in the same complex with the school,” Antonius explained. “It is not a hall as they thought.”

Antonius said that the church had no building permit, but when it was built in 1968, there was no regulation on building permits.

“In 2006, the government issued a joint ministerial decree in which its transitional regulation stated that in the case of a house of worship that has been permanently used and or has historical value but has no building permit, a mayor or district chief should issue the permit,” Antonius said.

“At that time, it was not only churches that had no building permits, but also mosques,” Antonius said. “This is the obligation of the local government to issue decisions that the church is legal as it has existed for 40 years.”

Antonius said that as many as 6,000 congregation members joined Sunday services every week.

“There is no other Catholic church nearby,” he said, adding that the protesters were not residents of Tambora. “The church has good relations with the residents.”

– jakarta globe

Attack against churches in South Sulawesi

Three Protestant churches were attacked at dawn. Unknown assailants who arrived on motorbikes threw Molotov cocktails against the buildings. The attack lasted an hour and follows a similar incident a few days ago. Observers fear an escalation in sectarian violence as part of a political plan to destabilise the country

Attack against churches in South SulawesiJakarta, February 15, 2013: Indonesian authorities have appealed for calm after a number of Christian places of worship were attacked in Makassar, capital of South Sulawesi. In Jakarta, the central government is particularly concerned to avoid an escalation that might lead to sectarian violence.

Three Protestant churches were attacked with Molotov cocktails by unknown assailants. Although there was little damage, the incident has raised concerns that they are part of some political plan to heighten sectarian tensions in order to destabilise the country’s political institutions and thus undermine coexistence in the world’s most populous Muslim country.

The attack occurred in central Makassar at dawn yesterday, St Valentine’s Day, which is a controversial celebration in the Muslim nation. Riding their motorcycles, unidentified attackers three flammable devices at the different places of worship over the period of an hour.

The first church that was hit belongs to the GKI (Indonesian Christian Church), on Samiun Road (pictured). This was followed by an attack against the Toraja Church on AP Pettarani Road and finally a third Protestant church in Gatot. Local sources report that no one was hurt and the three buildings suffered only minor damages.

A police spokesperson in Jakarta said that the attack was connected to attempts by Muslim extremists to heighten sectarian sentiments and fuel religious conflict.

In light of the situation, Indonesian State Intelligence Agency Chief General Marciano Norman appealed to residents to stay calm, urging them not to respond to provocations from any group.

Home to an important university, Makassar has over the years become a major tourist and trading centre. For a long time, it was an island of peace and calm.

Things began changing last year when Muslim extremists three a homemade device against South Sulawesi Governor Sahrul Yasril Limpo. Earlier this year, two Muslim extremists were killed in a shootout with police at a local mosque. And this Monday, unidentified attackers firebombed the Toraja Mamassa Protestant church, causing minor damage.

Sulawesi Island and neighbouring Maluku Islands are not new to bloodshed. Between 1997 and 2001, violence broke out pitting Muslims against Christians. Thousands of people were affected. Homes, churches and mosques were destroyed. An estimated half a million people became homeless, including 25,000 in the city of Polo alone.

The violence came to a formal end on 20 December 2001, when Christian and Muslim leaders signed a truce in Malino, South Sulawesi, worked out by the government.

This however did not stop all acts of violence. Perhaps one of the worst was thebeheading by Muslim extremists of three Christian schoolgirls in October 2005.

– asianews

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