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ICC Note

The protests over the cartoons Muslims are calling offensive continue, and as the below article describes, this puts many Christians in danger, as they will become a target for violence.


ADN Kronos International ( Italy )

Cartoon Crisis Continues

Jakarta , 9 Feb. (AKI) – Fears that anti-Western protests against cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed may spill over into sectarian violence have been aired by religious leaders and analysts in Indonesia . They also harbour strong suspicions that the demonstrations are being fomented by “puppetmasters” with a violent agenda. While it is the world’s most populous Muslim nation, the country also has millions of Christians, Buddhists and Hindus.

“Westerners are afraid. Christians are afraid,” Franz Magnis Suseno, a Catholic priest and director of the Driyarkara Advance School of Philosophy told a meeting of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Jakarta .

Protests over the publication of the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed have continued in Indonesia ‘s main cities. To date they have been largely peaceful, but representatives of the religious minorities are concerned that the tension may lead to aggression against non Muslims.

“There has been virtually no violence. If it stays so, it will soon subside, but if the radicals succeed, than anything can happen,” cautioned Suseno. He is Dutch-born but has lived in Indonesia since the 1960s, where he is considered one of the most authoratitive commentators on inter-religious affairs.

“I have the impression that there is a big consensus to keep this under control, but the problem is that the response has been slow,” he added.

According to Din Syamsuddin, president of the 25-million strong Islamic organisation, Muhammadiyah, the main risks is that the protests may be piloted by “puppetmasters”.

“Forty, fifty percent of them are supported by a certain person. It is political,” he argued, without specifying who might be pulling the strings.

“We do not want our religion to be exploited. It has happened before,” he added.

In Indonesia , political manipulation has been behind the sectarian violence which caused thousands of deaths at Ambon on the Molucca Islands between 1999 and 2000.

Syamsuddin, who like most of the Muslim leaders has called for calm, underlined that those who have been most active in protesting are not followers of the mainstream Muslim organisations, but members of the Islamic Defendent Front (FPI), a radical group, known for its affiliation with the Indonesian army and responsible for various attacks on Christian communities in recent years.

An indicator of the volatility of the situation is the decision by an Indonesian badminton association to cancel a friendly match with Denmark for security reasons. The match was due to be held in Jakarta on 14 March.