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» 08/05/2011
INDONESIA
Sumatra: Ramadan begins with the burning of two Protestant churches
by Mathias Hariyadi
A crowd of at least 100 people attacked and torched a prayer centre of the Christian Batak Synod (Hkbp). They had previously attacked another Christian church five miles away. The violence took place on the first day of the holy month of fasting and prayer for Muslims.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - A mob of a hundred people attacked and set fire to two Protestant house churches in Logas Tanah Darat, in the Regency of Kuantan, Riau Province (Sumatra). The incident occurred August 1, coinciding with the start of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting and prayer for Muslims, but the news was broadcast by a radio station in Jakarta only late yesterday afternoon. The new attack against the Christian minority, according to some experts, is also a consequence of the "soft" sentences recently imposed by courts against extremists and Islamic leaders in Indonesia.

One of the two places of worship burned belonged to the Protestant Christian Batak Synod (Hkbp). Sahat Tarigan, leader of the Protestant Christian Karo, reports of at least 100 people who gathered around the building, chanting hostile slogans and brandishing weapons. Suddenly the assailants poured gasoline over the place of worship, then set it on fire. Previously, the crowd had attacked another house church located about five kilometers away. The Christian leader added that "our people have nothing to do with the assailants," who struck on Aug. 1 to coincide with the start of Ramadan.

The Christian prayer centers were situated in an area with a Muslim majority, but there are no records of episodes of violence or intolerance in the past. "In short - Tarigan Sahat concludes - we have no idea why they set fire [to the church]."

However, in Indonesia there are frequent cases of violence against religious minorities and places of worship. And the police, instead of pursuing those responsible, justify the fires - as happened in the last case - arguing that the churches are built of wood "and so burn easily." Added to this is the inertia of the judges and courts which impose laughable penalties against extremists and Islamic leaders who foment violence or commit heinous crimes (see AsiaNews 29/07/2011, Light sentences for Muslim extremists who attacked Ahmadis AsiaNews 18/06/2011, Central Java, Justice held in check only one year for imam who ordered attack on three churches).



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See also
07/29/2010 INDONESIA
Christians in Bekasi forced to celebrate in the open air under police protection
by Mathias Hariyadi
08/19/2010 INDONESIA
Bekasi Christians not intimidated by pressures from Islamic extremists
08/16/2010 INDONESIA
Jakarta, Bekasi Protestant Christians sit in outside Presidential Palace
by Mathias Hariyadi
12/07/2011 INDONESIA
Indonesians celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Batak Protestant Church
by Mathias Hariyadi
02/24/2011 INDONESIA
Bekasi, assault on a Protestant church: mild sentences for Islamic leaders

Editor's choices
VATICAN
Pope: I am with the persecuted Christians of Mosul and the Middle East "May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated with violence. Violence is defeated with peace." At the Sunday Angelus Francis comments on the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God is "patient" He knows "the same weeds in the end, may become good wheat". But "at the time of the harvest, that is, of judgment, the reapers will execute the order of the master separating the weeds to be burned".
CHINA - VATICAN
Beijing, seminarians desert graduation ceremony: We will not celebrate Mass with illegitimate bishops The rector of the seminary is the illegitimate bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin: Students refuse to concelebrate with him and reject Msgr. Fang Xingyao, who has participated in several illegal episcopal ordinations. The directors close the year without awarding diplomas and send students home: rumors of some courses being "suspended" in September. The precedent of 2000, when 130 young students chose fidelity to the Pope over compromise with the government.
HONG KONG-CHINA-VATICAN
Card Zen: Religious freedom and civil liberties are united, for China and Hong Kong
by Bernardo CervelleraA wide ranging conversation with the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong: the courage of Msgr. Ma Daqin, who sent a message to Pope Francis; underground Catholics are also prepared to be arrested; suspicions about Beijing’s sincerity towards possible dialogue with the Holy See. And in Hong Kong, the march for a referendum on democracy; support for "Occupy Central"; the fear of the government and arrests. Card. Zen reaffirms that religious freedom and civil liberties go hand in hand.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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