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» 10/23/2012
INDONESIA
Anti-Christian violence: extremists set fire to Protestant church in Poso
by Mathias Hariyadi
An unidentified group set fire to the Madele Pentecostal Church. Quick action by Church members as well as some Muslims brought the blaze under control, limiting the damages. In another incident, blasts wounded three people, including two police agents. Sectarian tensions raise fears.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The city of Poso, in the Indonesian province of Central Sulawesi, has been the scene of renewed sectarian violence against the local Protestant minority. Overnight on Sunday, unknown assailants set fire to the Madele Pentecostal Church. The quick intervention of the congregation stopped the fire from spreading and spared the building from serious damages. The anti-Christian attack "occurred last night around midnight," Poso Police Chief Eko Santoso said, confirming the sectarian nature of the incident. Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim nation, but Poso Regency (District) has a large Christian community. It saw bloody clashes that left thousands of people dead on both sides until a peace deal was struck in 2002.

The fire started when a collection box was doused with petrol and then set alight. Flames eventually spread to the pastor's residence. Only the intervention of the fire department and volunteers prevented the blaze from causing major damages to the two buildings. Rev Aben thanked villagers, including "some Muslims," who came to rescue, playing a decisive role in preventing the fire from spreading.

Yesterday, two car bombs also exploded near a police traffic post, wounding three people, including two police agents on duty at the time. Investigators believe the post was the target.

"The terrorist group used a sophisticated device in which they detonated the bomb remotely through a mobile handset," one agent said.

In recent weeks, Poso has been the scene of renewed sectarian violence. The port city has seen attacks against Christian-owned buildings, including places of worship.

Two law enforcement agents have also been murdered under mysterious circumstances. They went missing whilst investigating a recent attack against a prominent member of the Christian community. Their bodies were found after eight days on the side of a road near a training centre connected to an extremist Muslim group.

Between 1997 and 2001, Christians and Muslims were involved in a violent conflict on Sulawesi Island and neighbouring Maluku Islands. Thousands of people died and hundreds of churches and mosques were destroyed. Thousands of homes were also razed. About half a million people found themselves homeless, 25,000 in Poso alone.

On 20 December 2001, the two sides reached a truce that was signed in Malino, South Sulawesi, following a peace initiative by the government. The local population is evenly split between Christians and Muslims.

Despite the peace deal, terrorist incidents continued on and leaving a trail of innocent victims. One of the most horrific cases, which caused indignation around the world, was the beheading by Muslim extremists in October 2005 of three Christian girls on their way to school.


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See also
03/10/2006 INDONESIA
Bomb targets Hindu temple in Indonesia
10/31/2006 INDONESIA
Jakarta sending troops to Poso to start reconstruction
11/18/2005 INDONESIA
Another young woman murdered in central Sulawesi
by Benteng Reges
11/08/2006 INDONESIA
Men who beheaded three Christian schoolgirls were preparing a hundred more decapitations in Sulawesi
by Benteng Reges
11/03/2005 INDONESIA
Indonesians against the instigators of violence

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.

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