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  • » 10/22/2010, 00.00


    Islamic fundamentalists against church named after Mother Teresa

    Mathias Hariyadi

    Plans to build a Catholic place of worship in Cikarang, some 60 kilometres east of Jakarta, is generating opposition among Muslim groups. At least six churches were attacked since last year. Several Protestant clergymen were also assaulted. The authorities have been criticised for failing to stem the wave of intolerance.

    Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Anti-Christian intolerance is raising its ugly head again. Islamic fundamentalist groups are increasingly trying to stop the construction of churches in areas where the Catholic Church is present. Government slowness in reacting to such phenomena has come under fire because it effectively adds more fuel to the flames of intolerance fanned by such groups (See Mathias Hariyadi, “Religious intolerance rising among Indonesian Muslims,” in AsiaNews 5 October 2010)

    The most recent example of this trend involves the Saint Mother Teresa Parish in Cikarang, some 60 kilometres east of Jakarta. The situation here is the more worrisome since Indonesian authorities have shown little or no desire to intervene in the matter, and this despite sharp criticism from inter-faith and human rights groups.

    In recent days, some provocative banners opposing plans to build a new church in Cikarang have appeared. “The Islamic Group Ukuwah Islamiyah rejects any plan to construct a church in Bunda Teresa Cikarang,” read one banner displayed in front of a local mosque in Taman Sentosa Cikarang.

    Another one on Bandung Street, in Cinere, carried the same message but against another Christian place of worship slated for construction only 200 metres from a local police station.

    In both cases, it is clear that the lack of action by the authorities against this kind of protests to ensure a spirit of harmony between religions has fuelled intolerance.

    Opposition to the Mother Teresa Church in Cikarang started in September when someone began spreading rumours about the potential “Christianisation” of the Bekasi Regency (district), a predominantly Muslim area.

    According to the rumour, a church and other buildings would be built that together would constitute the largest Christian centre in Asia.

    Opponents to the Church charged that the latter would become a magnet for proselytising, thus threatening the district’s Muslim majority.

    Saint Mother Teresa Parish was founded in 2004 and has a congregation of some 6,000 members. It does not have a church building, and has to celebrate Mass in the gym of a local Catholic school.

    In recent weeks, Bekasi Regency has seen a number of episodes of intolerance directed at Christians from different confessions. Since 2009, at least six churches have been attacked and several Protestant clergymen have been the victims of assault.

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    See also

    17/09/2010 INDONESIA
    Jakarta to review laws on religious freedom to guarantee Christian rights
    The authorities announce changes to a joint ministerial decree ((nº8 of 2006 and nº9 of 2009) after minorities engage in protest following the latest violent episodes against the Christian community. West Java governor pledges a “permanent” place of worship for the HKBP Church and its members.

    29/07/2010 INDONESIA
    Christians in Bekasi forced to celebrate in the open air under police protection
    Islamic extremists have targeted the HKBP community for years. Christians have been denied the right to build their own places of worship, have seen facilities used for services shut down, and have had to endure insults and threats during open-air celebrations. “I will never give up seeking justice,” Rev Luspida Simanjutak says. “Law enforcement performance has been very poor. Security officials have been hopeless and silent on this crucial matter, “NGO laments.

    21/03/2013 INDONESIA
    West Java: Christians in the streets to stop church demolition, charges against clergyman
    About a hundred members of a Bekasi church are demonstrating in favour of religious freedom. Local authorities plan to demolish their place of worship in a few hours time. After the community's pastor files a case against a Muslim leader who proffered death threats against him, he finds himself charged with defamation and could go to jail.

    11/08/2015 INDONESIA
    West Java, Islamic extremists block construction of St. Clare Parish
    Opponents argue that the faithful do not have a building permit. In reality, the permit was obtained, after 17 years. The church should serve 9 thousand faithful. The Bekasi mayor gives in to protesters' demands. Religious intolerance is one the rise in the country and there is a certain "impotence" of the government in curbing Islamic Extremists. A long list of churches blocked or scrapped.

    19/08/2010 INDONESIA
    Bekasi Christians not intimidated by pressures from Islamic extremists
    For months, hundreds of radical Muslims have threatened Christians and interrupted the functions of the Batak Protestant Church (HKBP). Rev Luspida Simanjutak, the community’s pastor, tells AsiaNews that she is not afraid of the extremists, and that she will continue to defend freedom of religion.

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