Muslim Fundamentalists Attack Catholics Near Jakarta

Mass Is Halted as Militants Converge on Missionary Center

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JAKARTA, Indonesia, OCT. 6, 2004 ( Muslim fundamentalists attacked a Catholic community near the Indonesian capital, halting the celebration of Mass.

The attack Sunday also interrupted the activities of the Catholic school of Sang Timur, in the missionary complex of St. Bernadette in Cileduk, in Benten province, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of Jakarta.

According to AsiaNews, some 50 armed militants of the Islamic Defender Front (FPI), among them women, invaded the St. Bernadette premises.

The attackers burned the front gate, and blocked other exits, forcing Mass-goers to leave the main hall of the center, which is used as a chapel, and threatening them with machetes.

Last Friday, inflammatory sermons were delivered in the local mosque against the Catholic community.

A few Catholic eyewitnesses of the Sunday attack criticized the conduct of security forces. Some 50 police who were at the scene did not intervene decisively against the FPI activists when they began to block the exits.

For his part, the parish priest canceled the Sunday and Monday Masses. The school, with a student body of 3,000, including many Muslims, and run by the Religious of the Child Jesus, was closed on Monday and Tuesday.

Sunday’s incident is not the first to take place in Cileduk, where Muslim fundamentalists are increasing. The fundamentalists describe the celebration of Mass in the school building as «proselytism,» the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano reported today.

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