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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
IRAQ-ITALY
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul," the thanks of the Patriarch Louis Sako; the concerns of the Bishop of Kurdistan
by Bernardo CervelleraThe head of the Chaldean Church is grateful for the AsiaNews campaign and hopes that "this chain of solidarity will reach far and wide”. Helping refugees to remain in Iraq. But many want to flee abroad. The bishop of Amadiyah where thousands of displaced people have found haven in churches and homes: We also help the Arabs (Muslims), and Yazidis, for free and without looking at our confessional differences.
ITALY - IRAQ
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul" to respond directly to Iraq's emergencyAsiaNews is launching a fundraiser to support Christians targeted by the Islamic State, thus responding to a request by the Patriarch of Baghdad and Pope Francis's urgent appeal "to guarantee all necessary assistance - especially the most urgently needed aid - to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others." More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes leaving everything behind and now have nothing to live on. To help them, five euros a day are enough. The funds raised will be sent to the Patriarchate of Baghdad, which will distribute them according to the needs of each family.
CHINA - VATICAN
Wenzhou bishop and priests slam government's campaign against crosses and churches in Zhejiang
by Eugenia ZhangFor Mgr Vincent Zhu Weifang, from the official Church, the campaign of destruction is increasing social instability. It is real persecution against the Christian faith. The bishop apologises for failing to intervene sooner. He was hoping that the campaign would end quickly. Catholics and Protestants suffer injuries as they attempt to defend their sacred buildings. For priests in Wenzhou, the campaign is unfair and touches buildings that have all the right papers. Such "stupid acts" by the government are undermining social harmony.

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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