ASIA/INDONESIA - Catholic Students denounce an Islamic leader for "blasphemy"

Tuesday, 10 January 2017 islam   youth   civil society   religious fundamentalism   politics   blasphemy   religious minorities   religious freedom  

Jakarta (Agenzia Fides) - The Catholic Union of University Students in Indonesia (Perhimpunan Mahasiswa Katolik Republik Indonesia, PMKRI) filed a complaint for blasphemy regarding a Muslim religious Habib Rizieq Shihab, leader of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), Islamic extremist organization that recently promoted acts of hostility and violence against the Christian minority. Catholic students accuse Habib Rizieq of having offended the Christian faith in a video speech posted on the internet on 25 December.
As Fides learns, the Catholic student, Angelo Wake Kako, president of the Union, denounced Habib Rizieq and Ahmad Fauzi, who uploaded the video of the speech on an "Instagram" account, and Saya Reya, who uploaded the video on a "Twitter" account.
"The affirmation of Rizieq on Christmas humiliated and hurt the Christians", explains Angelo Wake to Fides. "All Indonesians should respect diversity and other religions", he said. Rizieq is accused of violating Article 156 (a) of the Criminal Code, which constitutes the crime of "blasphemy" and provides for a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Even the governor of Jakarta, Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama is accused of the same offense, and is on trial in a district court in Jakarta North.
Catholic students have put together a team of 149 Indonesian lawyers ready to give their contribution and to ensure legal assistance in the case of blasphemy filed against Rizieq. Police opened an investigation of the case that could end up in court.
Speaking to Fides, Bishop Harun Yuwono, president of the bishops Commission for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the Indonesian Bishops' Conference, praised "the courage of the Catholic Union of University Students", while fearing a negative reaction of the extremists in the face of such an accusation that could be interpreted as "open hostility". This is why the Bishop urges to engage other Muslim believers in deploring and stigmatizing offenses towards the Christian faith, in order to "show that one always has at heart the unity and peace and interreligious harmony in Indonesia", he said . "For example the members of the Islamic Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) organization do not appreciate the attitude that demeans Catholicism and disturbs peace in Indonesia, insulting non-Muslim religions".
In a very delicate situation, the Executive Secretary of the Bishops' Commission for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Fr. Agustinus Ulahayanan, urged the baptized to be prudent "in order not to trigger a social and religious conflict and to always maintain unity", to "uphold justice, truth and diversity in Indonesia's pluralistic framework, respecting religions and demanding respect for ours". After the denunciation of the Catholic students, even the "Student Peace Institute" (SPI), non-denominational student organization, that unites students of all religions, has filed a complaint to the police, reporting that "Habib Rizieq’s speech spreads words of hatred and undermines religious harmony in Indonesia". (PA-PP) (Agenzia Fides 10/01/2017)


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