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Indonesians denounce NZ mosque attacks

Muslim and Christian leaders say Christchurch carnage should not be allowed to damage interfaith dialogue

Indonesians denounce NZ mosque attacks

People look at the floral tributes laid near the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch Mar. 18, three days after 50 worshippers were killed in two mosques attacks, the worst on Muslims in a Western country. (Photo by David Moir/AFP)

Religious leaders in Indonesia have called on the faithful to continue promoting interfaith dialogue in the wake of an extremist killing at least 50 Muslim worshipers in New Zealand.

A 28-year-old Australian identified as Brenton Harrison Tarrant live-streamed himself on a shooting rampaging through Al-Noor and Linwood mosques in the city of Christchurch during Friday prayers on March 15.

An Indonesian was one of those killed and two more were among dozens injured.

Tarrant made his first appearance in a local district court the following day charged with murder. Evidence so far suggests he was a lone gunman, according to local police.

In a statement, Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta, chairman of the Indonesian Bishops' Conference, known by the local acronym KWI, condemned the "savage acts which are against the values of any religious teachings and of universal humanity."

"KWI and all Indonesian Catholics hope that the incident in New Zealand will not ruin good relations between all people from different religious and ethnic backgrounds, particularly in Indonesia which have been maintained well so far," he said.

Reverend Henriette Tabita Lebang, chairwoman of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia, expressed deep concern.

"We hope the Indonesian people are not provoked by the videos and photos that are meant to spread terror," she said.

“We also call on them not to intentionally share the videos and photos as doing so would only help the terrorists."

There is no reason for people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds, all God’s creations, to kill each other, she added.

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Helmy Faishal Zaini, secretary-general of Indonesia's largest Islamic organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, indirectly urged Muslims in Indonesia not to engage in retribution by calling on them to allow law enforcement agencies in New Zealand to deal with the case

Meanwhile, Yendra Budiana, secretary of the Ahmadiyah Indonesia Congregation, said the Christchurch violence should serve as an important lesson for both the Indonesian government and people on the need to "promote interfaith dialogue in a more active way and to eliminate hatred and suspicion among the faithful."

Ahmadiyah is an Islamic sect that has been subjected to discrimination and persecution by some mainstream Muslims in Indonesia.

There have also been Islamic extremist attacks in Indonesia, including bombings, that have killed both locals and foreigners.

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