World Watch Monitor

Indonesian Christians and Ahmadiyya Muslims gathered together in West Java last weekend to protest against the closure of several of their places of worship, Catholic news agency UCAN reports.

More than 100 people took part in a range of events, including the sharing of personal stories of discrimination. The participants included members of the Filadelfia Batak Protestant Church in Bekasi and the GKI Yasmin Church in Bogor, both closed, and Ahmadiyya Muslims, who have also seen their places of worship destroyed or closed down.

Christians make up around 12 per cent of Indonesia’s population, according to World Christian Database figures, while Ahmadiyya Muslims account for just a few hundred thousand of the country’s 200 million Muslims.

According to the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, West Java has seen the highest number of incidents of persecution.

“Our church is sealed but it does not limit our love for our neighbours, including Muslims,” said Andre, 27, from the GKI Yasmin Church.

Nivari, 24, an Ahmadiyya Muslim, said she wanted to let Christians know that “not all Muslims hate other religions”.

“Many Muslims, including me, can involve themselves in the activities of Christian friends and are committed to building peace,” she said.

Meanwhile, more than 3,500 people, mostly Catholics, participated in a fundraising marathon on 29th July, organised by Indonesia’s Jakarta archdiocese, UCAN reports.

The “Run4U” campaign was aimed at raising money for the reconstruction of churches in various parts of Indonesia.

Participants, including priests, nuns, seminarians and people from other religions, could choose between a 2.5 kilometre walk and a five kilometre run in Tangerang, Banten province.

Sister Vanessa from the Followers of Jesus society, who did the 2.5 kilometre walk, said she was impressed by how the marathon “drew people together from different faiths”.

“It was really outstanding, not just Catholics but non-Catholics, too. We can really feel the spirit of ‘unity in diversity’ [Indonesia’s national motto],” she said.

Each participant contributed a minimum of 200,000 rupiah ($US13). The total sum of the pledges was not disclosed.