ASIA/INDONESIA - Religious intolerance is a problem in Central Java

Friday, 6 June 2014

Jakarta (Agenzia Fides) - Religious intolerance remains a serious problem in the province of Central Java, marred by serious incidents of religious violence in 2014: is what is stated in a note sent to Fides Agency by the Institute for Religious and Social Studies (Elsa), study center based in Semarang.
The institute cites several episodes: the vandalism of a Hindu temple in the area of Sragen; several cases of clashes among some residents and members of the radical "Islam Defenders Front" (radicals accused citizens of being Muslims "not militants", not in line with Islam). Among the incidents of violence, aggression against the prayer hall of a Protestant community with stones and other sharp objects in the district of Sleman (near Yogyakarta) and against the faithful of the Catholic parish of Holy Family in Banteng.
According to the institute, "these incidents of religious intolerance have become typical" and depend largely on the presence of radical Islamic groups in the area that, according to the Mudjahirin Thohir, Muslim professor at the University of Semarang, "perpetrate acts of violence in the name of religion, abusing religion". These groups manipulate the concept of "jihad", he explained, and are influenced by external factors. The institute invites religious leaders, especially Muslims, to make the faithful "more mature in order to better understand religion in the context of a pluralistic nation such as Indonesia" and calls on the Indonesian government "to take firm action against those who use violence in the name of religion". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 06/06/2014)