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» 09/23/2013
INDONESIA - ISLAM
Java: Islamic extremists against the reopening of Saint Bernadette Parish Church
by Mathias Hariyadi
After nine years, the authorities issued a building permit. Outside Islamist groups mount protests and issue threats. A priest says he was forced to cancel a second Mass yesterday because of the demonstrations.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - After long peaceful battles and nine and years of waiting, the Catholic community in Ciledug, Tangerang Regency (Banten province) rejoiced after local authorities authorised the reopening of Saint Bernadette Catholic Church. However, their joy lasted only a few hours because Islamic extremist groups quickly mounted a protest campaign, demanding that the place of worship be sealed up again even though it holds a building permit (IMB). According to some witnesses, many of the protesters (pictured) who had gathered yesterday near the building to prevent Sunday celebrations were not locals, but members of the so-called Islamic Forum who came "from elsewhere" to fuel the protest.

Sources, anonymous for security reasons, told AsiaNews that in recent days, outgoing Tangerang Mayor Wahid Halid issued the permit to reopen the church shut down in 2004. Yet, he was the same one who had seals placed on the church's entrances to placate fundamentalist protests opposed to the presence of a Christian place of worship.

In Indonesia, getting a permit to build a Catholic or a Protestant church is complicated and may take five to ten years. Construction requires a building permit (Izin Mendirikan Bangunan or IMB) issued by local authorities plus a certain number of signatures from local residents and the local Interfaith Dialogue Group. Unfortunately, often local officials block projects for "unspecified reasons" under pressure from radical Islamic movements.

"Yes, news (about the reopening) are true," a source in Saint Bernadette parish told AsiaNews. The permit "arrived last week" with the signature of Mayor Halid, who will soon leave the post to the current deputy.

However, as soon as news of the release of the permit began circulating protests began, reaching a crescendo yesterday, Sunday. Members of self-styled Islamist extremist groups took to the streets with slogans, signs and chants, making threats in case plans to build the church went ahead.

"We had to cancel the second Mass of the day," a priest said, amid the dismay and anger of many parishioners in a community that has now reached the 11,000 people. For far too long, they have been forced to conduct services at "makeshift" locations or in neighbouring parishes.

Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation. Whilst upholding the principle of religious freedom in its constitution, it has become more and more the scene of attacks and violence against minorities, Christians, Ahmadi Muslims or other faiths.

Although Aceh is the only province in the country that enforces Islamic law (Sharia), religious radicalism has increased in many other regions as the influence of Islam increases in the lives of people.

Some issues, such as building permits to Christian groups, have been used to deny Christians the right to build or reopen their churches, as with the Yasmin Church in Bogor regency, West Java.


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See also
08/27/2011 INDONESIA
East Java: Indonesian Catholics celebrate the ordination of seven priests
by Mathias Hariyadi
09/16/2004 INDONESIA
Suspects in Australian Embassy blast named
by Mathias Hariyadi
05/30/2006 INDONESIA
Quake in Java: Help the helpers, says Indonesian Church
02/04/2014 INDONESIA
Floods in Java: Purwokerto Catholics help Wadas Gumantung community
by Mathias Hariyadi
01/23/2014 INDONESIA
Pantura: after decades of "apathy", Catholics revive missionary spirit
by Mathias Hariyadi

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What Tayeb and Sisi said is big step towards a revolution in Islam
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SAUDI ARABIA - ISLAM
For head of Al-Azhar, religious education reform is needed to stop Islamic extremismFor Ahmed al-Tayeb, it is urgent to come up with new educational programmes to avoid "corrupt interpretations" of the Qur'an and Sunnah. Islamic terrorism undermines the unity of the Muslim world. He blames Mideast tensions on a "new global colonialism allied to world Zionism". a speech by the Saudi king is read at the conference.
HONG KONG - CHINA - VATICAN
It looks like someone is trying to shout us down
by Card. Joseph Zen Ze-kiunThe widespread optimism concerning the dialogue between the Holy See and China is largely groundless. Some Chinese bishops unable to speak freely are asked "leading" questions. The key issues remain unresolved, namely episcopal appointments and the fate of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. Benedict XVI's Letter to Chinese Catholics, also cited by Pope Francis, provides guidelines. No agreement is better than a bad agreement. What happened to Msgr. Cosma Shi Enxiang and Msgr. James Su Zhimin? Hong Kong's bishop emeritus, champion of religious freedom in China, delivers a vibrant reflection.

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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