08/20/2012, 00.00
INDONESIA

Anti-Christian attacks mark the end of Ramadan in Java

by Mathias Hariyadi
This year's Idul Fitri was tarnished by bloodshed and violence. In Solo, a grenade was thrown at a police station; no victims were reported. In Bandung, police tells priest to stop Mass as many fear attacks by Muslim extremists.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - In Indonesia, acts of religious intolerance have characterised this year's Idul Fitri, the celebration that marks the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting and praying. Over the week-end, extremist groups stopped a Catholic Mass in West Java. In Solo (central Java), a police station was hit by a grenade attack. Unlike previous years, Muslim celebrations are no longer free of violence. Still, most of the faithful respected an established tradition and invaded the streets on their scooters and other vehicles, honking, blowing horns and shouting "God is great."

A priest in Bandung said that a group of Muslim extremists prevented Mass celebration in a 'house church' in Majalaya, West Java. He said local police called him on his mobile, warning him of possible "incidents" or attacks against Christians attending Mass during Idul Fitri.

Local Catholic sources explained that for about "a dozen years" Mass has been celebrated inside a room in a plant in the industrial zone because the authorities "have not issued the appropriate papers" for a permanent structure.

Similar cases have been reported elsewhere in the country. The latest one involved the Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church in Parung (Bogor Regency) where the lack of a building permit has led to shuttering or demolition of the structure.

Idul Fitri celebrations have been tarnished by another attack, this one against a police station in Solo, the second largest city in central Java. Here, an unknown number of attackers threw a grenade inside the station as people celebrated in the streets. Fortunately, no one was hurt. However, the fact that it even occurred during the religious celebration is interpreted as a "strong message" to the police.

It is unclear though, if this attack was a response to the arrest of Muslim leader Abu Bakar Baasyir. For Indonesia's intelligence chief, there were enough elements to find the unknown attacks, but for now, details would not be released.

 

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