(AsiaNews) - The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) has once again stirred up controversy
over the fact that Islam is not taught in the country's Catholic schools. The
latest case involves a Catholic school of Klanten in Central Java. Last year,
the same thing was front-page news for weeks in Blitar
(East Java Regency) and Tegal
until Muslim parents came out in defence of the Catholic schools where their
children study, emphasising their high level of education.
Hartoyo, the MUI
leader in Klanten, urged all private schools, including Catholic ones, to hire
qualified staff to teach the Islamic religion to Muslim students. In
his view, the absence of Islamic religious teachers is a grave violation of the
law because every student should be able to receive lessons in his or her
The local association
of private schools (BMPS) agrees. Slamming the lack of Muslim teachers, it demanded
that a solution be found and the problem solved "in the best possible way."
following a decades-old practice, Indonesia's private Christian schools,
including Catholic ones, are not required to offer courses on Islamic religion or
time off to read the Quran, as is the case in state schools. They
do however provide seminars and lectures on the Christian religion and catechism.
Muslim students who
go to Catholic schools take instead Islamic religious courses sponsored by their
own Islamic community.
It should also be
noted that school administrators go out of their way to reassure Muslim parents
that Catholic schools do not try to "convert" students and that Christian
proselytising is banned.
For decades, the
issue was never a problem, until last year that is, when MUI leaders stirred up
a storm by demanding Islam be taught, something extensively covered by local
for most people, the whole thing is political and not spiritual in nature.
In recent years,
Indonesian authorities have repeatedly caved in to MUI pressures, an
association that purports to monitors behaviour and morals, a practice that is
commonplace in Aceh, a province ruled by Islamic radicals, where women cannot
wear tight pants or skirts.
In March 2011, the
MUI lashed at flag raising "because Muhammad never did it". Before that,
it attacked the popular social networking service Facebook for being "amoral" as well as yoga, smoking, and
the right to vote, particularly