Ambon (Fides Service) - The 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Christians in the Moluccas was not a motive of conflict, it was a time for encounter, friendship, collaboration, the Crisis Centre in the Catholic diocese of Amboina told Fides. Young people from both communities, Christians and Muslims worked together to prepare for the recent celebration. For example they helped to clean and arrange both the Al-Fatah Mosque in Ambon and the Maranatha Protestant church for the occasion. This joint effort was a sign of young Moluccans’ will to build friendship and dialogue and to show that the encounter of different religions rather than provoking conflict, should be a source of enrichment and spiritual growth.
After this anniversary marked by dialogue and collaboration another imminent event could cause violence. April 25 is the annual republic day marked by separatists who want an independent republic of the Moluccas. Last year the day was marked by clashes and torching of homes, and risked starting another civil war. Police in the Moluccas are on the alert to stop any violence as the day draws near. Civil and religious leaders are making every effort to keep social harmony and peace in the Moluccas where there were bloody clashes between Muslims and Christians in 2000-2002. Still today the Muslim and Christian districts in Ambon are separate and latent tension threatens to explode. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 3/3/2005 righe 22 parole 233)