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» 09/15/2011
INDONESIA – UNITED STATES
Accused or proselytising, American family attacked by Indonesian extremists
by Mathias Hariyadi
Only the intervention of the police prevented serious consequences for the parents and their two boys. The father had started two weeks earlier to teach English at a local Protestant school. The attack, which took place in South Sulawesi, was ordered by a radical local Muslim leader.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Only the intervention of police saved the lives of an American family that was attacked by an enraged mob spurred by a local religious leader. Muslim fundamentalists were incensed by charges that the head of the family was engaged in proselytising in the predominantly Muslim area. The latest of its kind (a few days ago clashes between Christians and Muslims left people dead and wounded in Maluku, this incident is further proof of Indonesia’s steady slide towards extremism, a situation that threatens the country’s constitutional foundation, namely its pluralism.

The attack came at night on 5 September in an area west of Palu, provincial capital of South Sulawesi. An American family, David Ray Graeff, 41, his wife Georgia, also 41, and their two sons Benjamin and Daniel, had been staying at Bukit Kabonena Permai housing compound for the previous two weeks. Mr Graeff had been hire to teach English language and literature at a local Protestant divinity school in the village of Uwera, Sigi District.

On that night, an extremist mob, spurred by a local Muslim leader, Muhammad Saleh bin Abubakar Alaydrus, from the local Nurul Khairaat praying group, attacked the family, accusing them of proselytising in the mostly Muslim area. For them, the presence of Americans was itself a “serious threat”.

In the course of their attack, the mob set fire to the family’s property, including a minivan.

Police, who had already been deployed in the area to pre-empt acts of violence, was able to intervene and prevent the worse.

However, the family had to be moved to avoid possible deaths and injuries, Southeast Sulawesi Deputy Police Chief Senior Superintendent Ari Dono Sukmanto said.

Indonesia’s good reputation as a pluralistic, multi-confessional society, has been tarnished by the attack in South Sulawesi and the clashes on the Maluku Islands.

Comments and articles in Indonesia’s press have highlighted the matter, as many see such incidents as a confirmation of the country’s possible Islamisation.

Indeed, Muhammad Saleh bin Abubakar Alaydrus, the Muslim leader that ordered the attack on the American Christian family in Palu, had joined in 2001 a government peace plan agreed in Malino to end sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims in Maluku.

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See also
09/06/2005 INDONESIA
Three Christian women jailed for 'proselytising'
09/17/2004 UNITED STATES - SAUDI ARABIA
For the first time Riyadh on US list of states violating freedom of religion
03/16/2011 INDONESIA
Christians protest against the new closure of the Yasmin Church in Bogor
by Mathias Hariyadi
06/12/2010 INDONESIA
Muslim award goes to Catholic priest for his work in favour of peace and the environment
by Mathias Hariyadi
09/07/2005 INDONESIA
Christians fear attacks in the workplace
by Moerkekaq Senggotro

Editor's choices
VATICAN
Pope: I am with the persecuted Christians of Mosul and the Middle East "May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated with violence. Violence is defeated with peace." At the Sunday Angelus Francis comments on the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God is "patient" He knows "the same weeds in the end, may become good wheat". But "at the time of the harvest, that is, of judgment, the reapers will execute the order of the master separating the weeds to be burned".
CHINA - VATICAN
Beijing, seminarians desert graduation ceremony: We will not celebrate Mass with illegitimate bishops The rector of the seminary is the illegitimate bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin: Students refuse to concelebrate with him and reject Msgr. Fang Xingyao, who has participated in several illegal episcopal ordinations. The directors close the year without awarding diplomas and send students home: rumors of some courses being "suspended" in September. The precedent of 2000, when 130 young students chose fidelity to the Pope over compromise with the government.
HONG KONG-CHINA-VATICAN
Card Zen: Religious freedom and civil liberties are united, for China and Hong Kong
by Bernardo CervelleraA wide ranging conversation with the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong: the courage of Msgr. Ma Daqin, who sent a message to Pope Francis; underground Catholics are also prepared to be arrested; suspicions about Beijing’s sincerity towards possible dialogue with the Holy See. And in Hong Kong, the march for a referendum on democracy; support for "Occupy Central"; the fear of the government and arrests. Card. Zen reaffirms that religious freedom and civil liberties go hand in hand.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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