Christians, Muslims unite to support Surabaya bomb victims

Jakarta cathedral invites Muslims to break fast, enjoy parish tour as interfaith dialogue urged in wake of suicide bombings
Christians, Muslims unite to support Surabaya bomb victims

Jesuit Father Albertus Hani Rudi Hartoko (right, holding microphone), the parish priest at Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral Church in Jakarta, leads a group of about 200 Muslims on a tour inside the church on June 1. (Photo by Katharina R. Lestari/

A Catholic church in Jakarta held a fast-breaking meal on June 1 with local Muslims to show solidarity in the wake of rising extremism and support the victims of church bombings in Surabaya, East Java in May.

About 200 Muslims from different communities, including the Gusdurian Network of activists that promotes interfaith dialogue, packed the cathedral hall at Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral Church in the capital during the three-hour program that marked the middle of the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast from dawn till dusk.

Ramadan began on May 16 this year in Indonesia with the sighting of the full moon and is due to wrap up on June 14.

The schedule included a church tour inside led by Jesuit Father Albertus Hani Rudi Hartoko.

"This year, the cathedral church of Jakarta Archdiocese wants to materialize the spirit of 'Kita Bhinneka, Kita Indonesia' [We are diverse, we are Indonesia]," the parish priest told on the sidelines of the program.

"We really want to respect that diversity. With this spirit, we want to work together with others," he said.

"The cathedral church is open to everyone. It can become an oasis for all people," he said, adding that "we are called to spread love and solidarity everywhere."

According to Alissa Wahid, a coordinator at the network, the program aims to push an agenda of national unity as more groups promote an ideology of exclusivity that is threatening this sense of cohesion.

On May 13, a family of six carried out a wave of suicide bombings at three churches in Surabaya, killing at least 19 people.

"The situation in Indonesia remains deeply concerning because many groups want to divide people," said Wahid

"They may have a small voice but their 'sound system' is big enough to make that heard as they exploit religious sentiment," she said.

"This drowns out those calls by other people with better intentions," she added.

Harijono Djojodihardjo, who joined the program, called it an "historic" occasion.

"We adhere to different religions but in each case that concerns our respective relationship with God," he said.

"This program marks our effort to build a sense of togetherness. I feel like I have to be here."

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