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» 06/14/2013
INDONESIA
Central Java: fatwa against Catholic schools, "forbidden" to Muslims
by Mathias Hariyadi
In a "controversial" statement, the local Ulema Council in Tegal said that such schools are haram, "morally unsound." Politics and local authorities have fuelled the controversy for electoral advantage. However, the families of Muslim students have defended the schools, claiming the right to free choice in matters of education.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The powerful Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) has come out against Catholic schools in Tegal District, Central Java province, issuing a "controversial" a fatwa that has sparked reactions and protests.

For MUI leaders, such schools are "haram", "morally unsound" for young Muslim pupils despite the fact that they score high for the quality of the education they provide and have as a consequence attracted a large number of non-Christians.  

In so doing, they have opened up a new fault line after their recent attack against Miss World Contest; this in the world's most populous Muslim nation, where Catholics are a small but significant presence.

For the schools, the fatwa is a great blow, coming in the wake of attacks from Muslim extremists and local governments that included threats of closure that were however eventually dropped.

The Ulema Council has often intervened to enforce orthodox views about Muslim precepts, such as how to butcher animals or uphold Islamic mores. However, in this case the motivation behind MUI's stance is "political" in nature. It follows appeals by local authorities to force Catholic schools to teach the Muslim religion to its non-Christian pupils.

Harun Abdi Manaf, MUI leader in Tegal, said that the council went through "lengthy discussions" and that a "decision was taken in April" to issue "a fatwa destined for the parents" of Muslim pupils, telling them not to send their children to Catholic schools. He explicitly referred to Catholic schools in Tegal and Pemalang, which have been under the threat of closure because they opposed a government order that requires them to reach Islam.

In addition to Mgr Julianus Sunarko, bishop of Purwokerto, many Muslim families have come to the defence of the two schools, claiming their right to a quality education. In fact, many schools run by nuns, priests and lay Catholics offer such excellence in education that they are sought after by non-Christians.

However, government authorities have tried too often to exert some form of control (however small) over these schools. The demand to have Islam included in the curriculum has thus become a rallying point to gain Islamist political and electoral support.

Indeed, Indonesian authorities in recent years have repeatedly given in to MUI's pressures. For example in Aceh, a province run by Islamic radicals, women are not allowed to wear tight pants or skirts.

In March 2011, MUI also lashed out at the flag raising "because Mohammed never did it". Before that, it had launched anathemas against Facebook for its "amoral" nature, as well as yoga, smoking and voting rights, in particular for women.

 


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See also
06/16/2006 SOUTH KOREA
Christian groups claim right to manage their own schools
12/18/2013 INDONESIA
For Indonesian Ulema, Christmas and New Year are "haram" and should not be celebrated
by Mathias Hariyadi
02/08/2011 INDONESIA
Central Java: Thousands of Muslims attack three churches, an orphanage and a Christian centre
by Mathias Hariyadi
03/10/2010 INDONESIA
Indonesian Islamic organization issues a fatwa against smoking
by Mathias Hariyadi
04/02/2011 INDONESIA
Indonesian Catholics raise money through Facebook to treat the poor
by Mathias Hariyadi

Editor's choices
IRAQ-ITALY
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul," the thanks of the Patriarch Louis Sako; the concerns of the Bishop of Kurdistan
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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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