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Islamic radicals threaten Catholic gathering

Indonesian police criticized for being afraid, meeting cancelled

Islamic radicals threaten Catholic gathering
A protest by Muslim radicals in Indonesia
Indonesian Church leaders have condemned an Islamic radical group for threatening to disrupt a meeting on religious freedom and victims of intolerance to be held by an NGO in West Java.

“We condemn it. The meeting aimed to facilitate the victims and wanted to find solutions for them,” said Father Antonius Benny Susetyo, secretary of the National Board of Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace and executive secretary of the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference’s Commission for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.

The Setara institute was forced to cancel the meeting scheduled for yesterday. The meeting titled Eliminating Discrimination, Promoting Holistic Protection and Religious Freedom Guarantee in West Java was to present 25 victims of religious violence.

However, prior to the scheduled meeting, several Muslims calling themselves the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) said the institute had issued reports discrediting Muslims and threatened to stop the activity. Ten Muslims from a different radical group came to the meeting venue and staged a protest.

“It obviously threatens the civil society’s freedom to speak and gather,” institute personnel said.

They also criticized the police for being “afraid” of such religious radical groups after they canceled the meeting for security reasons.

The police should be “guardian of civil liberties” and protect every citizen, they said.

“The police must be firm,” said Theopilus Bela, secretary general of the Indonesian Committee of Religion for Peace.

Setara institute works to promote freedom of religion and belief and encourage the State to safeguard such rights in Indonesia.

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