12/23/2011, 00.00
INDONESIA

West Java: Islamic extremist groups threaten Catholics, Christmas celebrations at risk

Mathias Hariyadi
Fundamentalists attack the faithful of the parish of St. John the Baptist in Parung. Threats of attacks if prayers services are held. For Islamists, the building has nopermit. Allegations rejected by the local faithful. For the Executive Secretary of the Bishops' Conference it is a clear violation of religious freedom.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Islamic fundamentalist groups in Parung, Bogor regency, West Java province, are threatening and "warning" the local Catholic community, victims of attacks in anticipation of the holiday season. At the risk of the celebration of Masses and religious services, especially with regard to the faithful of the parish of St. John the Baptist, long the center of a dispute between Christians and Muslims that revolves around the building construction permit.

A statement published by the " Parung Society of Muslim " emphasizes the "strong support" of the stance of the Govenor of Bogor regency, who opposes the plan to build a church for the faithful of the parish of St. John the Baptist. Again, the controversy revolves around the infamous IMB - the Izin mendirikan bangunan - essential for any contrustion in Indonesia and even more difficult to obtain when it comes to a place of Christian worship.

Speaking to AsiaNews Fr Benny Susetyo Pr, Executive Secretary of the Indonesian Bishops Conference (KWI), speaks of "unfriendly methods" of Islamic fundamentalists, who end up "undermining the spirit of Pancasila", the guiding principles of the state that promote religious freedom, multiculturalism and unity in diversity. The priest also points the finger at local government officials, who have never wanted to find an agreement on the matter that concerns the place of worship.

In recent days, members of the Muslim Parung demonstrated against what they call "illegal" construction of a church, which actually has had a permit for six years and is home to the functions of the local Catholic community of the village of Waru. Last year, fundamentalist groups have prevented the celebration of Christmas functions, the faithful have had to move elsewhere to avoid new attacks during the services.

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