» 12/28/2012, 00.00
Central Java, young Muslims defy the Islamists and participate in Christmas mass
The young people are students of a local Islamic university. They justified their presence as a gesture of friendship and brotherhood towards Catholics. The gathering took place in the church of St. Xavier in Kebon Dalem, in the province of Semarang. In the region several Muslim imams had called for a boycott of the Christmas Masses.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Regardless
of the threats
of radical Islamic leaders against the Christians, 12 Muslim youths of Semarang Islamc State University WaliSongo
attended Christmas Mass in
the Catholic Church of St. Francis Xavier Kebon Dalem (Semarang, Central Java).
Budi Purnomo said that they came of their own accord, risking their own lives. Before
entering the church, the boys asked permission to attend mass, justifying the
visit as a gesture of brotherhood with their Christian neighbors during the
"In the beginning - says the
priest - I was not impressed. At Christmas many Muslims come to our services
but only to ensure safety, showing no interest towards us. But when I met these
young students I was convinced about their true intentions" . The
pastor stresses that the faithful applauded the 12 "guests" of
exception, who have followed the mass from beginning to end in silence and with
one of 12 students gave the priest a small message read at the end of the Mass,
in which he confesses the reasons that led him to attend the function. "I
am very happy to have lived this experience with my fellow Catholics,"
said the young man. "As
a Muslim, I am resolved to strengthen the spirit of tolerance and coexistence
with Christians." According
to Muskit, Indonesia is a multi-religious society and this spirit must be
had the chance - he added - to attend a celebration where the message of peace
of Christmas is widespread and shared."
Despite the risk of attacks by
Islamic extremist groups, thousands of Catholics flocked to churches to attend
Christmas mass. AsiaNews
sources point out that in all the parishes turnout was higher than expected. As
every year, the Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest moderate Muslim organization in
Indonesia, provided more than 20 thousand people as security guards in front of
the Christian religious buildings.
is the most populous Muslim country in the world and while the constitutional principles
ensure religious freedom, it is increasingly the scene of attacks and violence
against minorities, be they Christian, Ahmadi Muslims or other faiths. In
the province of Aceh is governed by Islamic law, the Sharia - the only one in
the archipelago -, and in many other areas the Muslim religion's influence in
people's lives is becoming more radical and extreme. In
addition, some rules such as building permits - the infamous IMB - are
exploited to prevent the building or close down Christian places of worship, as
is the case for some time in the regency of Bogor, West Java, for the faithful
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