12/29/2009, 00.00
INDONESIA
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Muslims attack and set fire to a house of prayers

by Mathias Hariyadi
The attack by unknown assailants occurred in early December in the village of Tlogowero, Bansari sub district (Java). Police issued a statement on the matter only yesterday. For residents, the incident was caused by Muslim objection to the presence of Christian buildings in their villages.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – A group of unknown assailants attacked and set fire to a house of prayer in early December in the village of Tlogowero in Bansari sub district (Java), local Police Chief Anthony Augustine Koylal said. “The motive is not yet known. We are still investigating the case with local authorities,” he added,

Police sources said the attack occurred late at night when a group of people stormed the building. After breaking windows and doors, they set fire to the building, which was razed to the ground. The attackers fled the scene when the house began burning.

The police chief also said that a similar incident occurred two years ago in the same area.

Local sources said that the main reason for the attack was the objection by local Muslims to the presence of a praying house for Christians near their villages.

So far, the authorities conducted out a cursory inquiry into the facts. No one who might have information on what happened has been interrogated. 

This attack is just the latest in a long series of aggressions against Christians in Indonesia.

The most recent one dates back to less than two weeks ago. On 18 December in Begasi Regency, a mob of about a thousand people, including women and children, attacked Saint Albert’s Catholic Church.

Construction on the building started in 2008 after authorities issued a building permit to the local Catholic community. In this case, the reasons for the attack remain unknown.

However, there are signs of confessional détente in the village of Karangayar, Wiradesa district, also in Java.

On Christmas Day, District Chief Hajjah Siti Khomariyah paid a visit to the local Protestant and Catholic communities to deliever her Christmas greetings.

Ms Khomariyah expressed her personal support for local Christians who want to build their own places of worship.

“This official visit strengthens good relations between Christians and Muslims,” said Father Mardius from Wiradesa district, in what for him is a rare example of interfaith dialogue and good relations between Christians and Muslims.

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