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Correspondents Report – Saturday, 15 April , 2006
Reporter: Peter Cave

HAMISH ROBERTSON: While Muslims fear persecution in Russia , Christians in Indonesia believe they’re facing increasing repression there.
A new decree on places of worship has just replaced an earlier ordinance promulgated in 1969, which was widely criticised as repressing minor religions in the world’s largest Muslim society.
According to Indonesia ‘s Christians, this new edict takes repression one-step further and breaches the Constitution and human rights conventions.
Our Foreign Affairs Editor, Peter Cave compiled this report in Jakarta .
(sound of a young foot soldiers singing in Indonesian)
PETER CAVE : The young foot soldiers of radical Islam in Indonesia . Members of the Islamic Defenders Front who have become infamous for their attempts to enforce Islamic morals in Indonesia with attacks on nightclubs, liquor stores and more recently, the offices of the newly established Playboy Magazine.
(sound of a young foot soldiers singing in Indonesian)
Islamic fundamentalism has risen in Indonesia along with democracy since the overthrow of the repressive Suharto regime and Christians, who constitute Indonesia ‘s second largest religious grouping at around eight per cent (ICC Note: This figure is off. The real percentage is as high as 18%. The government plays games with the census figures to diminish the Christian population) compared to around 88 percent for the Muslim majority, say they’re bearing the brunt.
What worries them in the new regulations is a stipulation that new places of worship must have congregations of at least 90 people and that 60 people belonging to other religions in the area must give their consent.
Minority religious groups say the old regulation was used to close down 23 churches in West Java alone over the past two years and that Muslim gangs are using the new law to attack even established churches in their communities.
In one incident a few weeks ago, hundreds of radical Muslims converged on a church filled with Christian worshippers in West Java and forced the priest to close down the church, which had been operating for nine years.
Many smaller churches have taken to holding their services in secret behind closed doors.
Nowhere in Indonesia, though, have the tensions between Christians and Muslims been more deeply felt than in Central Sulawesi province, around the town of Palu, which is more or less evenly divided between Christian and Muslim communities.
This Easter three Catholic men, Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva, and Marianus Riwu are facing imminent execution by firing squad for murder and planning attacks on Muslims between 2000 and 2001.
All channels for appeal have now been exhausted and prosecutors say the firing squads have been chosen and briefed on their job.
They will be the first executions in Indonesia since 2004, when an Indian National and two Thais were shot for drug offences.
Their supporters are holding prayer vigils and Pope Benedict the 16th earlier this month sent a message of compassion for the men.
Christian groups claim the men have been made scapegoats for the violence between Muslims and non-Muslims which killed at least a thousand people on both sides in 2000 and 2001, and scores since in killings, payback killings and random acts of inter-communal violence.
They point out that no Muslims have been charged and there is ample evidence that at least 16 known conspirators were behind the violence, not just the Palu three.
And they say if the executions are carried out this weekend they will become Christian martyrs.