West Java: Islamists against Christian businessman accused of proselytising
by Mathias Hariyadi
Padang Islamic leaders launch a campaign against the construction of a shopping centre owned by James T. Riady, a Jakarta-based Protestant businessman, famous across the country for building malls that include stores, schools and hospitals.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Anti-Christian sentiment is on the rise in Padang, capital of West Sumatra province. In recent weeks, several Islamist groups, including the Minangkabau People's Forum, have organised demonstrations and issued press releases against what they call the 'Christianisation' of the province.

Recently, Islamists have also targeted the construction of a shopping mall (pictured) with attached schools and hospitals by the Lippo Group, a company owned by James T. Riady, a Protestant businessman from Jakarta who is a personal friend of former US president Bill Clinton.

Posters denouncing the Lippo Group mall construction appeared on 5 November, Islamic New Year, on the walls of Nurural Mosque.

"We are opposed to the plan to build a shopping centre with hospitals and schools in our area," said Masfar Rasyid, a local Islamist leader,

For many Indonesian Islamist leaders, Riady uses his shopping malls to spread Christianity in Padang. For the Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI), at least 600 locals have converted so far to Christianity.

This is not an isolated incident. In recent years, anti-Christian Islamist activity has increased across the country. On more than one occasion, Catholic and Protestant communities have been the victims of violent attacks.

When it comes to intolerance, West Java is second only to Aceh, Indonesia's only Sharia-ruled province. In Bogor for example, the Yasmin Church has been attacked dozens of times.

Local Ahmadi Muslims, deemed heretical by Sunni Muslims, have also been victimised by Islamists.