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2013-03-08

ASIA/INDONESIA - Radical Islamic groups: stop to the churches in West Java

Jakarta (Agenzia Fides) - The Christian Protestant community "Banua Niha Keriso Protestant" in the city of Bandung (West Java province) received threats and orders to stop the assemblies of worship. A local Muslim leader, head of a large group, ordered the Christians to remove all Christian images and leave the building in which they gather to pray. As reported to Fides by the "Indonesian Committee of Religions for Peace" (ICRP), with regards to the refusal on behalf of leaders from the community, Muslims have promised to return with a crowd of militants to drive out the Christians by force. According to Theophilus Bela, president of " Jakarta Forum of Christian Communication" (FKKJ), it is possible that Islamic faithful are incited to do it after Muslim prayers on Friday.
Fides sources point out that this is the last of a series of anti-Christian actions that took place when a few days ago, in the province of West Java, the Islamist Ahmad Heryawan, of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) was re-elected as governor. Ahmad is a promoter of a rather intolerant Islam towards religious minorities. The day before the election he promised radicals (Front of the Defenders of Islam, FPI) to "liberate" the province from the Ahmadi community, considered a "heretical sect" by Sunni Muslims.
It should be noted that the governor was re-elected but with a narrower margin (about 30% compared to 40% of the vote he got five years ago). In recent years, West Java, a heavily industrialized region near the capital Jakarta, violent attacks against Christian churches and Ahmadis groups have occurred.
According to a recent study of the "Wahid Institute," a Muslim organization that promotes pluralism, religious intolerance remains a serious problem in Indonesia. The study cites 274 cases of religious intolerance which occurred in 2012, and the province of West Java is the one with the highest number of cases, 43. In two episodes, the Christian communities of the "Yasmin Church" in Bogor and the "Philadelphia Church" in Bekasi (both in West Java), the right to build a temple is still denied. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 08/03/2013)

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