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Indonesian Muslims Fear Christianization

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  • Zafar Khan
    Indonesian Muslims Fear Christianization By Daniel Hummel, IOL Correspondent Wed. Jun. 27, 2007
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 30, 2007
      Indonesian Muslims Fear Christianization
      By Daniel Hummel, IOL Correspondent
      Wed. Jun. 27, 2007


      JAKARTA — Indonesian Muslims are worried about a
      growing Christianization drive in the world's most
      populous Muslim country led by Indonesian Chinese, the
      economic heavyweights.

      "The missionaries’ ability to come and give food as
      well as other services coupled with government
      corruption in providing alternatives allows this
      problem to swell," Dr. Mohammad Siddiq, Executive
      Director of Dewan Dakwah Islamiyah Indonesia, told

      He believes that Christianization is a major problem
      persisting in Indonesia and that one of its chief
      reasons is poverty.

      Siddiq, whose group leads the fight against this
      drive, said Christians use social services to spread
      their message.

      He added that tsunami-ravaged Aceh was a prime example
      with missionaries pouring into the area to deliver aid
      and their message.

      The same pattern occurred in other places including
      Yogyakarta after a devastating earthquake last year.

      Siddiq said people disaffected by abject poverty
      coupled with frequent natural disasters and little
      knowledge about their own religion have created
      similar scenarios.

      The PKS, an Islamic political and social activist
      group, says Indonesians are very open and accepting
      people, thus easily influenced.

      If someone comes and treats Indonesians well, giving
      them money, jobs and food as some missionary groups
      do, their heart becomes attached to the person.

      "The Indonesians think with their heart, if you win
      their heart you win their soul," said one PKS

      Many Indonesian Muslims look up for wealthy Muslim
      countries to help them withstand such temptations.

      Less Muslims

      Islam entered Indonesia via trade with Arabs, Mughal
      Indians and Zheng He, the Chinese navigator during the
      Ming dynasty.

      Roughly a century after Islam arrived, Christian
      missionaries did too.

      This culminated in the colonization of most of the
      archipelago by the Dutch for 350 years until
      Independence in 1945.

      Christianity experienced an exponential growth that
      peaked in the 1960’s and 70’s when over a relatively
      short period of time millions converted to

      Dr. Fatimah Husein, an Indonesian lecturer at State
      Islamic University in Yogyakarta, attributed the mass
      conversions to the events following the Communist coup
      and its suppression in 1965.

      Many Communists seeking acceptance were quickly
      welcomed by the Christians, she concluded in her
      thesis Muslim-Christian Relations in the New Order

      Husein cites comparative Indonesian State Statistics
      based on censuses in 1971 and 1990.

      In 1971, Muslims made up 87.5 percent of the
      Indonesian populace and Christians 7.5 percent.

      In 1990, the Muslim percentage went down slightly to
      87.2 while the Christian increased by 2.1 percent to
      reach 9.6.


      Today, Christian missionaries are as active as they
      have ever been.

      Indigenous Christians and Chinese immigrants who
      converted to Christianity during the Dutch occupation
      make up the bulk of the missionary effort.

      With privileges under the Dutch that they continued to
      enjoy under Indonesian dictator Soeharto, Chinese
      Christians have accumulated great economic powers.

      Malls host public speeches on Christian topics as well
      as Christmas celebrations, while giving little
      recognition to Islamic holidays.

      Most of those building and managing these malls are
      Christians of Chinese descent.

      One example is the newest mall built in Jakarta,
      Senayan City Mall, which has a church on its top

      The mall, built and managed by Manggala Gelora
      Perkasa, offers a large public space of attraction to
      many Indonesians.

      Questions directed to the mall about the placement of
      a church inside were avoided and never responded to.

      The Catholic Church has 57 churches in the capital
      Jakarta alone.

      Another example of concealed missionary is evident in
      the healthcare sector.

      One of the largest financial blocs in Indonesia
      belongs to the Lippo Group of Mochtar Riady, a
      Christian and Chinese.

      The Group has holdings in many different markets, with
      healthcare comprising a quarter of their earnings.

      Their line of hospitals, called Siloam Hospitals
      (Siloam is the Indonesian version of Shalom for the
      Jewish greeting or in Indonesia the Christian version
      of Salam), offers international standard healthcare.

      The hospitals are overtly Christian given the name and
      the symbol being the Cross.

      Many Muslims frequent these hospitals and have often
      been cited as grounds for proselytizing.

      Dr. Husein insists that Christians in Indonesia cannot
      be viewed as one bloc and that there are many groups
      with different views about proselytizing.

      "There are groups in Christianity, as well as in
      Islam, who are more ‘hardliners’ and they might have
      the agenda to Christianize Indonesia as part of their
      religious mission," she told IOL.

      "However, I think Muslims have to be cautious that
      even amongst the Christians themselves there are
      disagreements as to how to spread their religions."
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