08/07/2013, 00.00
INDONESIA
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Archbishop of Jakarta warns of attacks, urges people to remain vigilant and calls for controls

by Mathias Hariyadi
In a message sent via mailing list to Catholic priests and community leaders, Mgr Ignatius Suharyo warns of possible anti-Christian violence. At the same time, the prelate calls for "friendly and cooperative" action with others. Yesterday, two Molotov cocktails were thrown into the compound of a Catholic school in Jakarta. For a local priest, the attack is related to the celebrations that mark the end of Ramadan.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Mgr Ignatius Suharyo, archbishop of Jakarta, has appealed to the Catholic community in the Indonesian capital to remain "vigilant" of possible attacks, but also to be "friendly and cooperative toward others."

As violent acts against defenceless citizens and religious minorities continue in the world's most populous Muslim country, alarm levels remain high following a double bombing at a Buddhist temple last Sunday.

The prelate issued his warning yesterday via the archdiocese's mailing list, which includes Catholic priests and community leaders, after petrol bombs were thrown in the early morning inside the compound of the Assisi Catholic School in Tebet, South Jakarta.

The handmade devices thrown at the Catholic school and the two rudimentary bombs that blew up at the Vihara Buddhist temple in Kebun Jeruk, West Jakarta, are symptomatic of the high tensions that currently prevail in the country, which is increasingly threatened by Islamic extremism.

More details on the assassination attempt foiled at the Catholic school and on its perpetrators are still not available.

Speaking to AsiaNews, school officials have confirmed that the act of intimidation did take place. Someone on a motorcycle, they said, came up to the outer walls of the school and threw two Molotov cocktails inside, then fled.

The school in question is the same that US President Barack Obama attended as a pupil before he moved to another facility located in Central Jakarta.

Anonymous in view of the seriousness of the situation, a priest in the archdiocese said that Mgr Suharyo's message is related to the escalation of provocations that has occurred on the eve of the feast of Idul Fitri (or Lebaran), which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting and prayer.

For years, Indonesia has been the scene of violence and extremism that have sown discord and division among members of different religions.

From 1997 to 2001, the island of Sulawesi and nearby Maluku were the scene of a bloody Muslim-Christian confrontation.

The violence caused almost half a million refugees, 25,000 in Poso alone, and thousands of people saw their homes burnt to the ground, with hundreds of churches and mosques destroyed.

On 20 December 2001, the two sides signed a truce in Malino, South Sulawesi. Christians and Muslims represent about half of the local population.

However, the truce did not prevent the periodic outburst of violence against innocent victims, such as the beheading of three girls on their way to school by Muslim extremists in October 2005.

According to police sources, some of the extremist leaders behind the violence in the 1999-2002 period are the same who today, years later, are responsible for crimes, attacks and bombings in Java.

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