01/09/2015, 00.00
INDONESIA
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Aceh teacher who took students to church is accused of proselytising and threatened

by Mathias Hariyadi
Rosnida Sari, a Muslim teacher, asked a priest to tell her students the story of his church's construction. This was followed by a press campaign fomented by Islamic fundamentalists, who "recommended" her to leave. In response, civil society groups have come out in support of the woman, who "teaches pluralism and tolerance."

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Islamic extremists in the Indonesian province of Aceh have "recommended" a Muslim teacher leave the country, after accusing her of "proselytizing" among her students.

Rosnida Sari, who is Muslim, is in the eye of the storm after she brought some youths to visit, voluntarily, a local Catholic church and talk to the priest.

For the local press, which has carried out a real campaign against the teacher, the "real reason" behind the visit was the woman's desire to see young people abandon Islam and convert to Christianity.

As a result of the situation, the teacher has been the object of very serious threats. Now, "she is terrified and plans to leave Aceh," her colleagues said.

Civil society groups have spoken out on her behalf. A group of NGOs called on Indonesia's newly elected president, Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, to protect the woman, who "teaches only pluralism and interreligious respect".

The Religious Affairs Minister "must take immediate action to calm tensions" in the area, they said.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, has often been the scene of attacks or acts of intolerance against minorities: Christians, Ahmadi Muslims or people of other faiths.

In Aceh, Islamic law (Sharia) is enforced, the only Indonesian province to do so. This is the result of a peace agreement between the central government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM).

However, more radical and extreme versions of Islam are growing in many other parts of the country, like Bekasi and Bogor in West Java.

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