01/03/2019, 00.00
INDONESIA
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Police investigating persons unknown over the desecration of 11 Christian tombs in Central Java

by Mathias Hariyadi

It is unclear what lies behind the act of vandalism, the first of its kind in Giriloyo’s cemetery. However, some suspect political motives and a desire to provoke dissatisfaction among Christians.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Police in Magelang (Central Java) have opened an investigation against persons unknown following the desecration of 11 Christian tombs in a public cemetery in Giriloyo, used by Catholics and Protestants.

The burial ground’s custodian noted the act of vandalism, which saw the destruction of wooden and stone crosses (pictures). Responding to his complaint, local police launched an investigation but there is no information as to whom might be behind the malicious act or why, Police Captain Choirul Anwar said.

What is known is that the wooden crosses were pulled out from the burial stone, and the stone cross was smashed with a hammer. This is the first of its kind in Giriloyo’s cemetery, police noted.

Many have reacted with outrage against what social media have described as another example of “anti-Christian intolerance” in a country awash with “fake news” where many are trying to resist radical Islamists.

In a previous case, pictures of a mutilated cross in a cemetery in Kotagede, Bantul regency, went viral on 18 December. It was later reported that the upper part of a cross was removed by mutual consent between the family of the dead person and local villagers who wanted to avoid angering local extremists since the Christian tomb was inside a Muslim cemetery.  

Some observers believe that that what happened in the cemetery in Magelang is a diversionary act ahead of next April’s presidential election. The aim is to drive a wedge between Indonesian Christians (10 per cent of the population) and incumbent President Joko Widodo, who is running for re-election against Islamist political parties who have accused him of not being a "good Muslim", of favouring foreign interests and of being a closet supporter of the banned Communist Party of Indonesia (Partai Komunis Indonesia, PKI).

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