09/09/2010, 00.00
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Indonesian religious group against plans to "Burn the Koran"

by Mathias Hariyadi
Semarang parish organizes an evening meetings with Muslims to discuss, pray and break the fast together. Mutual appreciation and satisfaction. Burn the Koran is an "unpopular and sectarian initiative ".

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Establish a spirit of tolerance and coexistence, not with speeches but through concrete daily actions. This is what the parishioners of Sacred Heart Church in Tanah Mas', Semarang (Central Java), are attempting with Muslims, with unexpected results.

On the night of September 7 in Semarang about 75 people, Christian and Muslim, gathered in Bethsaida Church Hall to discuss "Enhancing good relations between the members of the religions, praying and breaking the fast together." The meeting was organized by Rev. Aloysius Budipurnomo, head of the inter-religious Commission of the diocese of Semarang.

Father Budipurnomo told AsiaNews that "it is urgent to" improve relations with the Muslim population, which Indonesia is in the majority. Especially because of the resentment aroused among Muslims following highly unpopular plan to burn the Koran, on 11 September.

"This - he says - shows how - Christians and Catholics – really want to improve the spirit of tolerance and friendship [with Muslims] and our serious concerns about this unpopular initiative by Christians in other states to burn the Holy Koran" .

Such an act - says the priest - not only goes against the spirit of tolerance which every religion invokes, but also poisons the holy Islamic month of Ramadan, "it is an initiative that is unpopular and sectarian and must be dennounced." "The Catholic Church is firmly opposed to this project which is a serious demonstration of disrespect towards our Muslim brothers."

Father Budipurnomo also extended the Vatican’s message for Idul Fitri celebrations to the entire Islamic community.

The initiative has been greatly appreciated by Islamic communities. Dr. Abu Hafsin, president of the Inter-Religious Forum, expressed his great appreciation and gratitude for the tolerance shown by Catholics. Tafsir, a representative the 2nd largest Muslim group in Semarang, Muhammadiyah, shared this appreciation.

Sahidin, a representative of Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest Islamic organization of Semarang Chapter, said that what has been done by Catholics in Semarang must be repeated and more forcefully stated on other occasions.

The meeting was well attended by Buddhist, Hindu, Protestant Christians, as well as students of Al Islam boarding school, all sharing the desire for mutual tolerance.

The Islamists have been able to recite evening prayer in Kurnia Function Room at the Church, shortly after having broken the fast together.

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