Muslims offer to guard Christian churches in Indonesia - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
December 11, 2005

Muslims offer to guard Christian churches in Indonesia

-11/12/05

Indonesia's largest Islamic organisation will provide volunteers to help guard churches across the world's most populous Muslim nation, according to a report from the Reuters agency

The move comes amid fresh fears of attacks on Christian buildings over the seasonal period and moves by the authorities to stamp out religious violence.

Jakarta police had already said they would boost security in the capital ahead of Christmas to avoid a repeat of 2000 Christmas Eve bombings on churches in several Indonesian cities.

A youth wing affiliated with Indonesia's largest Muslim group Nahdlatul Ulama, some 40 million strong, said that members would guard churches for the coming Christmas festivities and it had persuaded youths from other religions to join the project.

"We have an annual programme to set up posts to secure Christmas. For this year, I have contacted groups from other religions like the Hindus and Buddhists and they have responded positively," said Tatang Hidayat, National Coordinator of NU's Banser group, known for its military-like uniform.

Hidayat said the volunteers would closely collaborate with existing police operations and the churches' own security.

Around 17,000 policemen are expected to safeguard Christmas celebrations in Jakarta alone.

The spate of bombings in 2000 killed at least 19 people, including a Banser member guarding a church in East Java.

The attacks along with other blasts in recent years -- most recently on the tourist island of Bali in October when suicide bombers killed 20 people -- have been blamed on Jemaah Islamiah, a militant network intelligence experts call a Southeast Asian wing of al-Qaeda.

Around 85 per cent of Indonesia's 220 million people are Muslim. Christians form the second largest religious group in the country as a whole, as well as in Jakarta.

Although Indonesia has been relatively calm in recent weeks, many security analysts say threats of militant attacks still run high because police have yet to catch one of the alleged masterminds of previous bombings, Malaysian-born Noordin M. Top.

Police last month killed Azahari Husin, another alleged Jemaah Islamiah leader, in a shootout in East Java province.

[Also on Ekklesia: Christians remember dead after Indonesia bombings; Indonesian Muslims say violence is sin and heresy; Indonesian Christians in fear after attacks and beheadings; Finance ministers agree to freeze debts of tsunami countries including Indonesia; Church agency condemns Indonesian human rights decision; Indonesian president in call for religious tolerance]

Muslims offer to guard Christian churches in Indonesia

-11/12/05

Indonesia's largest Islamic organisation will provide volunteers to help guard churches across the world's most populous Muslim nation, according to a report from the Reuters agency

The move comes amid fresh fears of attacks on Christian buildings over the seasonal period and moves by the authorities to stamp out religious violence.

Jakarta police had already said they would boost security in the capital ahead of Christmas to avoid a repeat of 2000 Christmas Eve bombings on churches in several Indonesian cities.

A youth wing affiliated with Indonesia's largest Muslim group Nahdlatul Ulama, some 40 million strong, said that members would guard churches for the coming Christmas festivities and it had persuaded youths from other religions to join the project.

"We have an annual programme to set up posts to secure Christmas. For this year, I have contacted groups from other religions like the Hindus and Buddhists and they have responded positively," said Tatang Hidayat, National Coordinator of NU's Banser group, known for its military-like uniform.

Hidayat said the volunteers would closely collaborate with existing police operations and the churches' own security.

Around 17,000 policemen are expected to safeguard Christmas celebrations in Jakarta alone.

The spate of bombings in 2000 killed at least 19 people, including a Banser member guarding a church in East Java.

The attacks along with other blasts in recent years -- most recently on the tourist island of Bali in October when suicide bombers killed 20 people -- have been blamed on Jemaah Islamiah, a militant network intelligence experts call a Southeast Asian wing of al-Qaeda.

Around 85 per cent of Indonesia's 220 million people are Muslim. Christians form the second largest religious group in the country as a whole, as well as in Jakarta.

Although Indonesia has been relatively calm in recent weeks, many security analysts say threats of militant attacks still run high because police have yet to catch one of the alleged masterminds of previous bombings, Malaysian-born Noordin M. Top.

Police last month killed Azahari Husin, another alleged Jemaah Islamiah leader, in a shootout in East Java province.

[Also on Ekklesia: Christians remember dead after Indonesia bombings; Indonesian Muslims say violence is sin and heresy; Indonesian Christians in fear after attacks and beheadings; Finance ministers agree to freeze debts of tsunami countries including Indonesia; Church agency condemns Indonesian human rights decision; Indonesian president in call for religious tolerance]

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