Indonesia: Newswire Report

---------- Forwarded message ----------

From:	IN%"" 15-OCT-1996 08:52:48.57
Subj:	Indonesian leader predicts more religious tensions.
09:10  15 Oct  Indonesian leader predicts more religious tension

  JAKARTA, Oct 15 (Reuter) - The leader of Indonesia's largest Islamic 
organisation predicted that attacks inflamed by religious passions, like 
those on churches in East Java last week, could recur. Abdurrahman Wahid,
head of the 30-million strong Nahdlatul Ulama, told Reuters in an 
interview that intolerance was the root cause behind the arson attacks on
up to 25 churches around Situbondo in East Java after a Moslem mob was 
angered by a court hearing in a blasphemy case.
Church groups in Surabaya say six people were killed in the attacks, although 
police say only five people, including a pastor, his wife and two children, 
died when they trapped in a burning church.
"It will happen again as long as we are not ready to change our orientation 
in leading the Islamic community," Wahid said. Some Moslem leaders promoted
a strong brand of nationalism which derided other religions and inflamed 
intolerance, Wahid said.  He did not mention any names. "The community should 
be re-oriented by its leaders towards tolerance and mutual understanding with
other religions, to accept other religions and to be at home with pluralism in 
religion,' he said.
Around 85 percent of Indonesia's population of more than 195 million people are 
followers of Islam.  The state ideology Pancasila promotes religious tolerance
and recognises five main religions. Cardinal Julius Darmaatmadja, head of the 
Bishops' Conference of Indonesia, said in a statement sent to Reuters on Tuesday
that he regretted that dissatisfaction and anger on one issue could lead to the 
destruction of places of worship and the killing of people. "This event underlines
that at this moment we are at a low point in the respect of others, including 
their property and religion," Darmaatmadja said.
The riots started after a crowd of angry Moslems reacted violently and attacked 
a courthouse after prosecutors sought a maximum five-year jail term for a man 
accused of blaspheming Islam.  

The crowd had called for the death sentence.

After destroying the court house, the crowd attacked churches after rumours 
were spread that the accuse, Mohammad Saleh, a Moslem, had taken sanctuary 
in a church.


Return to Project Open Book