Monday, September 18, 2006

Are we heading to renewed religious conflict here?

JAKARTA (AP): More than a hundred Indonesians marched through the streets of the capital Monday to protest Pope Benedict XVI's comments on Islam, some accusing him of encouraging a holy war.

Others in the country - which has the world's largest Muslim population -- said it was time to forgive, noting that the pontiff had issued an apology.

Protesters ended their rally in front of the heavily guarded Vatican embassy in Jakarta, some chanting "God is great!" as others waved banners that said the "Pope is building religion on hatred."

"His comments really hurt Muslim all over the world," said Umar Nawawi of the radical Islamic Defenders' Front. "We should remind him not to say such things, which can only fuel a holy war."

Benedict sparked the controversy when, in a speech in Germany last week, he quoted a medieval text that characterized some of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad as "evil and inhuman," and referred to spreading Islam "by the sword."

He has since said he was "deeply sorry" his remarks offended Muslims, stressing that they did not reflect his own opinions.

"We understand the anger and disappointment of Muslims," Religious Minister Maftuh Basyuni said Monday. "But the Pope has apologized, and as Muslims we have to forgive him and forget."

The usual gang of Islamic jihadi thugs were out protesting again. Hopefully the majority of Muslims will not allow these troublemakers to incite them to renew violence against Christians in Indonesia. The government needs to stop this now before these radicals are allowed to escalate tempers out of control and violence and church bombings start up again. The Islamic Defender's Front is just getting warmed up for their usual Ramadan non-authorized policing raids in Jakarta during the month. And as usual, Governor Sutiyoso and the police will do nothing about it.

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