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Government 'to blame' for violence

Bishop cites authorities' inaction and inability to deal with perpetrators

Government 'to blame' for violence
Participants listen to talk on religious harmony in Indonesia
Parulian Tinambunan, Surabaya

March 3, 2011

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Religious-based violence in Indonesia is the fault of government, not the individual religions, a leading church figure said yesterday. “The existing unwise law gives space to such violence. So the problem is not inter-religious harmony itself but (the government’s) ignorance to perpetrators of violence,” said Father Antonius Benny Susetyo, executive secretary of the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference's commission for ecumenical and inter-religious affairs. The government must take firm action against perpetrators of violence, he added. Instead it remains silent and does nothing to rein them in. As a result, violence victimized innocent people. The priest was speaking before delivering a talk on inter-religious harmony to more than 50 officials from the directorate general for Catholic community guidance (Bimas Katolik) at both national and local levels. “Inter-religious harmony in Indonesia is not as bad as what people describe. There is a problem indeed, but this would be who the real perpetrators of violence are,” he told participants. He later mentioned passive and active intolerance as two main roots of violence. “Active intolerance is more dangerous,” he said, reminding that puritanism will also create terrorism if it is not given serious attention. In order to improve inter-religious harmony in the country, Father Susetyo called on participants to work together with dioceses, diocesan commissions for ecumenical and inter-religious affairs, and priests. “If you can do it well, then you can prevent violence from happening,” he said. IJ13491.1643

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