03/16/2012, 00.00
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Conversion to Islam of a tribal leader not true says Bishop of Papua

by Mathias Hariyadi
Muslim groups and state television had spread the news, celebrating it as a great event. Bishop Murwito Aloysius OFM clarifies that it is the choice of a simple citizen who holds no political office or official positions. He warns that false news can create tensions within the Asmat tribes.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The bishop of Agats Mgr. Murwito Aloysius OFM has issued an official letter, in which he dismantles the claims of the radical Muslim fringe who speak of a "historical conversion" to Islam of a " Asmat tribal leader " an ethnic group in the eastern Indonesian province of Papua, home to a large Christian majority. Many sites close to Islamic extremism, but also moderate newspapers and state television (TvRi) gave wide coverage to reports that Sinansius Kayimter, a "leading figure" of the tribal community, having embraced the faith of Mohammed. In fact, says the prelate, it is a case of "personal conversion" of an ordinary citizen who has no political, social or religious significance.

The "clarifying" letter is addressed to various Islamic agencies and local government offices in the Asmat regency, and Msgr. Aloysius describes the reports as, "fabricated" because the person in question is not a tribal leader. The rumors it seems, adds the bishop, were spread only to "inflame the social conflict" and create "discord" and tensions among the Asmat of Papua.

As a representative of the Catholic Church, the letter continues, "the bishop is morally obliged" to provide explanations that serve to clarify the story and explain the facts. Bishop Aloysius Murwito addresses the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) of Asmat and the head of the local department of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, with the intent to "strengthen the already good relations on both sides and keep the spirit of tolerance and harmony "dedicated to the principle of" objectivity "of the facts.

For this he confirms the conversion of Sinansius Kayimter (who has taken the Islamic name of Umar Abdullah Kayimter), but the man has no office nor is he a official representative. "In the Asmat culture - says the bishop - the title of battle chief exists but not that of tribal chief, or worse yet, grand chief of the tribes" with the function of leadership on the ethnic group. There is, on the contrary, the president of the so-called MAF (a sort of representation of the Asmat tribal society), which is "an organization recognized by both the Catholic Church, that the government" and the post is currently covered by Yuvensius Alvons Biakai SH, who was also elected "head of the region."

The perfectly fabricated story, concludes Mgr. Aloysius could have a devastating impact and "create tension" within the Asmat tribal group. For this he "calls on the MUI and other agencies to spread enlightenment" and re-establish the facts in order to preserve social peace.


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