Indonesian Catholics join Muslims celebrating Eid al-Fitr

Interfaith activities continue despite extremist threats
Indonesian Catholics join Muslims celebrating Eid al-Fitr

Catholics in Tangerang, Banten province visited a Islamic boarding school on July 6 during the first day of Eid al-Fitr. (Photo by Konradus Mangu)

Thousands of Indonesian Catholics, including church officials, visited Muslim neighbors, relatives and friends during the first day of Eid al-Fitr on July 6, aiming to build harmony despite a recent terror attack.

The government has beefed-up security during Eid al-Fitr, following a suicide bombing in Solo, Central Java, on July 5 that killed the bomber and injured a policeman. Police believe the attack was planned by a network linked to the so-called Islamic State.

Bishop Yustinus Harun Yuwono of Tanjungkarang, chairman of the Bishops’ Interreligious Commission, accompanied by nuns and priests to visit Muslims in Lampung, Sumatra.

"We want to build harmony and true brotherhood," Bishop Yuwono told "We want to rejoice with Muslim brothers and sisters on their feast day."

He said they have also met with Hindu and Buddhist religious leaders, all of whom wanted to congratulate their Muslim brothers and sisters — an activity that the commission has done for the last three years.

"We are happy that we all live as brothers and sisters," the prelate said.

Bishop Yuwono also encouraged Muslims to remain firm in their faith and not let it be affected by terrorists who wrongly understand the religion.

In western Jakarta, Father Yustinus Sulistiadi and parishioners from the Church of St. Gregory visited a number of Islamic boarding schools.

During the visit, Father Sulistiadi, who is the secretary of the Communication Forum of Interreligious Harmony for Tangerang district, praised the work of Muslim clerics in improving education in Indonesia.

"They started from scratch, with little money but [had a] deep faith [and] serve through education," the priest said July 6. "They have succeeded in building up the character of students."

Yohanes Nur Wahyudi, a Catholic social worker, said that they have been visiting Islamic schools for the past four years. It sends a message of harmony and paves the way for Catholics to respect other faiths.

Muslim cleric Afif Astiri, chairman and founder of Al Allafiah Islamic School in Kronjo, Tangerang, said he appreciated the Catholics who visited the school. He also espoused the values of tolerance, which he also instills in his students.

The school, which started in 1960, has educated hundreds of Muslims now working and living all over the archipelago. Astari and his students also pay a return visit to St. Gregory's Church during Christmas.

"Good relationships with the people of the Catholic Church has long been established," said Maski, a Muslim cleric and the forum’s chairman. "Whenever there is [interfaith] activity … Catholics always participate."

Meanwhile, in Central Java, Father Aloysius Budi Purnomo, head of Semarang Archdiocese’s interreligious commission also visited Muslims at local mosques and schools.

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"May Eid al-Fitr be a sign of blessing and mercy for the people, towards the realization of a prosperous society, dignity and faith," the priest said.

With additional reporting by Ryan Dagur/

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