Thousands of Indonesians have joined nationwide interfaith rallies organised by the military in an attempt to demonstrate national unity as religious and racial tensions divide the world’s most populous Muslim nation.
Catholic Bishops in Indonesia have condemned a series of attacks on Buddhist temples by a Muslim mob in Tanjung Balai, North Sumatra, over the weekend, saying that it has damaged religious harmony. The Bishops also called on for the perpetrators who reportedly destroyed ten temples in raids late on July 29 and early July 30 to be brought to justice.
Muslim leaders from around the world met in Jakarta in the early part of May to address the religious aspects of extremism and terrorism. The International Summit of Moderate Islamic Leaders was hosted by Nahdlatul Ulama, an Indonesian Muslim organization that claims 50 million members worldwide.
Religious leaders denounced the recent the violent eviction of hundreds of members of an illegal organization. On Jan. 19, a mob burned down nine houses belonging to members of the Fajar Nusantara Movement, known as Gafatar, in Moton Panjang village of Mempawah district in West Kalimantan province. Previously, local residents issued an ultimatum forcing all Gafatar members to leave the district
Indonesia’s largest Islamic movement is organising an interfaith gathering next week, in which some 10,000 people are expected to participate. Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), is organising a mass rally in the capital, Jakarta, on Jan. 17 as a way to fight religious extremism and terrorism, as well as promote pluralism as the true foundation of Indonesian society. NU will be joined by 13 other Islamic organisations, as well as the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia (Konferensi Waligereja Indonesia, KWI), various Protestant churches and the Supreme Council for the Confucian Religion in Indonesia (Majelis Tinggi Agama Konghucu Indonesia, MATAKIN).
For more than a decade now Christmas celebrations in Indonesia have been under tight security. As the holiday approaches in 2015, police and military begin to divide tasks as to who will provide security for which church.
Indonesia has tightened security ahead of Christmas celebrations, by deploying thousands of security forces to guard churches across the archipelago.
Authorities in Indonesia’s conservative Aceh province have begun tearing down several Christian churches after hardline Muslims demanded their closure citing a lack of building permits and religious violence.
The plight of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers from Myanmar and Bangladesh, left adrift without food and water for nearly a week, has all the hallmarks of a full-blown humanitarian crisis. Yet despite statements of concern from governments, aid agencies and human rights groups, there is little sign of a coordinated plan to address the issue. Boats have been spotted off the coasts of Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia, apparently abandoned by human trafficking gangs who operate across maritime and land borders and shunned by regional powers.
Indonesian bishops have told the country’s top court that they support interfaith marriage and that laws that may restrict mixed unions are discriminatory.
(Photo) Father Yohanes Purba Tamtomo, a representative of the Indonesia Bishops’ Conference, speaks about the Church’s position on interfaith marriage during a hearing at the Constitutional Court on Monday (Photo by Ryan Dagur)