ASIA/INDONESIA - The Bishops: "The government must stop radical Islamic groups and preserve coexistence"

Saturday, 21 May 2016 dialogue   bishops  

credits: KWI

Jakarta (Agenzia Fides) - "We hope the government does its part to stop Islamic radical groups and preserve Indonesia's multicultural and multireligious identity, based on the Pancasila", the "five principles" at the base of the State, that sanction civil and religious coexistence": these are the requests, in an interview with Agenzia Fides, expressed by Fr. Agustinus Ulahayanan, executive secretary of the Commission for Interreligious Dialogue in Indonesia's Catholic Bishops Conference.

"In a context of a Muslim majority but deeply multicultural, multireligious, consisting of 17 thousand islands and marked by a pluralism of languages, different ethnic groups and cultures – explains the Secretary - religious and social conditions vary greatly from region to region. At the base there exists a dialogue approach and peaceful coexistence, but it is easy to find people or groups who exploit religion for their political agenda. This is a delicate issue. There are difficulties related to the growth of Islamic radicalism and religious intolerance, but they depend on minority extremist groups or, sometimes, by orders issued in locally provinces".

Avoiding any form of generalization, "In Indonesia, the context is very diverse - he continues - even from the religious composition of the communities point of view: one goes from a Catholic majority in Flores until the West Java region, where Catholics are 0.02% , while Christians in Kalimantan are 52%". "This differentiation – he adds - is also due to the presence of civil servants who at times, at a local level, emit restrictive measures as, for example, for the license to build new churches".

According to Fr. Ulahayanan, "in most cases, incidents of religious intolerance are the result of the action of small fanatical Islamic groups". Other times, says the priest "Problems arise because of the attitude of the Protestant Christian communities who proselytize, generating the reaction of Muslim fundamentalist". The Catholic Bishops, he concludes, "promote an attitude of sincere dialogue and fraternity with all" and one can say that "interreligious relations are in general excellent". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 21/05/2016)