09/16/2022 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – A bishop in the Moluccas, Indonesia, has accused authorities of hindering peaceful relations between religious communities in the region.
Bishop Seno Ngutra of the diocese of Amboina met with journalists at his home in the regency of Western Seram. In the interview, he criticized the head of the regency, General Andi Ansaddudin, for his recent actions. Specifically, General Ansaddudin denied the Christian community access to the main road leading to the nearby city of Kupang. In October, the Presparini festival, a major Catholic event, will be held in that city.
According to media outlet Asia News, religious leaders in the region have had their personal cars confiscated by authorities. Bishop Ngutra said, “The district chief has prevented a peaceful situation, so we have expressed our concerns to the Moluccan governor. The leaders of the interfaith forum were also denied an interview with General Asaddudin.”
The area has struggled to achieve peaceful relations between the religious groups that live there. Between 1999 and 2002, sectarian clashes between Protestant Christians and Muslims occurred in the region, leaving at least 5,000 people dead.
Bishop Ngutra continued his interview by questioning the motives of General Asaddudin as it pertains to religious tolerance in a region historically fraught with religious violence. He said, “It is a good gesture that a state budget has been allocated [for the Presparini festival], but I am also inclined to look deeper into the personal gestures of the general, who has not always been so friendly to the Catholic community. Indeed, he often questioned the necessity of holding the Pesparani festival and other issues related to the event.”
Please pray for the rights of Christians to be protected in the Moluccas.
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