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    » 11/02/2011, 00.00

    INDONESIA

    Java: Muslim violence against statues of other religions

    Mathias Hariyadi

    A radical Muslim group, the Islamic Defender Front (FPI), launches an appeal for the destruction of “un-Islamic” statues, like Chinese dragons, representations of the Buddha or Christian icons if they are in public places rather than in places of worship.
    Jakarta (AsiaNews) – The Islamic Defender Front (FPI) launched an appeal on its website on 29 September 2011 with an order to destroy all “un-Islamic” statues in the country, above all those in public places. FPI members were asked to take a stance against the making of statues that Islam does not approve. The request to reject un-Islamic statues was extended to other Indonesian Muslim groups.

    The appeal follows a controversy in Purwakarta (West Java) where hundreds of hard-line Muslims destroyed puppet statues representing mythological figures used in traditional theatre in the city’s downtown.

    Purwakarta mayor had offered the puppets used in traditional theatre to represent a more “native” Indonesian identity. However, for Muslim fundamentalists, the puppet statues were “religiously wrong”. On 18 September, hundreds of Muslims destroyed a number of them (see Mathias Hariyadi, “Islamic fundamentalists in Java target puppet statues,” in AsiaNews, 20 September 2011).

    The FPI also denounced the existence of several “profane” statues, like a big dragon in Singkawang, in West Borneo Province, and a statue of Buddha in Tanjung Balai, North Sumatra, which are still standing despite the hostility of Muslim radicals.

    “The statue of the big dragon in Singkawang is a form of evil provocation performed by locals of Chinese descent,” the FPI said in its statement.

    Singkawang is about 100 km north of Pontianak, the capital of West Borneo, and has a long-established Chinese community. Despite the presence of indigenous Christian Dayaks and Melayu Muslims, the Chinese are in fact a majority in the city.

    This year, Muslims destroyed three statues of Our Lady in Bekasi, West Jav. Still, the FPI said that it would not destroy Catholic statues of Jesus or the Virgin as long as they are kept inside churches. The same goes for Buddhist statues in temples. However, “if they are placed elsewhere, especially in public places, they are to be considered an evil provocation and the state should take action,” its statement read.
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    See also

    17/11/2011 INDONESIA
    West Java: moderate Muslims support Yasmin Church against the fundamentalist
    The controversy over the construction of a Protestant church denied a permit by mayor continues, despite the Supreme Court ruling. Both parties seek support from different Muslim organizations.

    24/12/2009 INDONESIA
    Indonesia, high alert for attacks on churches during Christmas celebrations
    Tens of thousands of police and army units deployed to protect places of worship. Among the provinces considered most at risk the Central Java and West Java. In recent days, the Christian community has suffered threats and assaults. Father in-law of Noordin M. Top, one of the country's most wanted, captured.

    12/08/2005 INDONESIA
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    Decisions about the fate of the Muslim minority are left to the Indonesian Ulema Council, which will decide whether or not to lodge an appeal in court.



    23/07/2005 INDONESIA
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    Islamic scholars urge the Ulema Council to revoke a "counterproductive" edict which brands this Muslim community as "heretical".



    16/07/2005 INDONESIA
    Indonesia: Thousands of Islamic extremists against the Ahmadis.

    In West Java, a compound of this Muslim community – held to be heretical – is attacked; local authorities "transfer" the faithful elsewhere.





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