Relaymedia

Fundamentalists Attack Catholics Near Jakarta

Muslim fundamentalists attacked a Catholic community near the Indonesian capital Oct. 3, halting Mass, and interrupting the activities of a local Catholic school
( [email protected] ) Oct 07, 2004 09:09 PM EDT

Muslim fundamentalists attacked a Catholic community near the Indonesian capital Oct. 3, halting Mass, and interrupting the activities of a local Catholic school.

According to AsiaNews, some 50 armed militants of the Islamic Defender Front (FPI), among them women, invaded the Catholic school of Sang Timur, in the missionary complex of St. Bernadette in Cileduk, in Benten province, some 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of Jakarta.

The attackers reportedly burned the front gate, and blocked other exits, forcing Mass-goers to leave the main hall of the center, which is used as a chapel, and threatening them with machetes.

A few Catholic eyewitnesses of the Sunday attack criticized the conduct of security forces, saying that some 50 police who were at the scene did not intervene decisively against the FPI activists when they began to block the exits.

For his part, the parish priest canceled the Sunday and Monday Masses. The school, with a student body of 3,000, including many Muslims, and run by the Religious of the Child Jesus, was closed on Monday and Tuesday.

The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano reported today that the fundamentalists described the celebration of Mass in the school building as "proselytism."

Sunday's incident was not the first display of public disapproval in Cileduk of the Catholic community, where sources say Muslim fundamentalists are increasing. Last Friday, inflammatory sermons were delivered in the local mosque against the Catholic community.