Authorities back away from compulsory Islam teaching in East Java Catholic schools
ICC Note: After three days of negotiations between Catholic leaders and local government officials, authorities have reportedly rescinded the injunction requiring six Christian schools in the city of Blitar, Indonesia to teach classes on Islam. This comes as good news for the schools which only last week faced permanent closure if they refused to begin teaching Islam.
By Mathias Hariyadi
01/23/2013 Indonesia (AN) - Six Catholic schools in Blitar, a town in East Java Province, will not be closed, nor will they have to provide compulsory courses on Islam and the Qur'an in response to an injunction by local authorities, this according to B. Djokodwihatmono, executive secretary of the Education Commission of the Indonesian Bishops of Conference (KWI). Speaking to AsiaNews, he said that after three days of "intense talks" between local officials and members of the John Gabriel Foundation, which acted on behalf of the Diocese of Surabaya, tensions were eased, resulting in a "happy ending".
In recent days, the issue was made more complicated by some reports in Jakarta's English-language media according to which the Catholic schools were willing to offer courses on Islam.
Such inaccurate and wrong information stems from a statement made by an official with the John Gabriel Foundation who, without any authorisation, said the schools were prepared to submit to the ultimatum. This led to heated and angry discussions among Indonesian Christians.
The issue was finally solved through the mediation of Catholic leaders, including the bishop of Surabaya, Mgr Vincentius Sutikno Wisaksono.