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Christians in Papua fear growing Islamization
From the Malaysian Herald
This is Papua, the province of Indonesia, not Papua New Guinea the independent soverreign state with which it shares a border.
Yan Kossy has lived in Jayapura, the provincial capital of Papua, for many years without being disturbed by the influx of outsiders but he said he finds the recent accumulation of mosques in the surrounding area unsettling. For example, Muslims recently built an Islamic center and cemetery on a ground higher than where people have lived and sources of water for thousands of years. Some have taken it as a sign of disrespect and a bid to show the superiority of their religion while others fret about the environmental impact it could wreak.
"The cemetery could contaminate our drinking water," Kossy said.
Christians were further antagonized when the road to a popular Christian shrine was damaged during the construction of Islamic buildings in the area. Meanwhile, after the Islamic center was built another problem arose: the loud sound from nearby mosques as they made their calls to prayer.
Marianus Yaung, a resident of Jayapura District, said Muslims who have come to the region often fail to respect the rites or ways of local people. "They come and build whatever they want," Yaung told ucanews.com, citing the construction of the controversial Al Agshan mosque in Sentani. The mosque was built higher than church buildings in the surrounding area, causing Christians to protest.
Dominikus Surabut, a tribal leader in Papua, said everyone has the right to practice their faith and develop their religion. However the growing Muslim presence in the area, coupled with their recent behavior, is becoming problematic as it also provides room for the spread of radicalism, he added.
A number of radicalized Muslim groups have gained ground in Papua, he said, citing the existence and influence of Hizb ut-Tahrir, based in Keerom District in northern Papua . . . rumors about the presence of Jamaah Islamiah in Merauke, southern Papua “We are more concerned about the presence of Hizb ut-Tahrir [a pan-Islamic group] in Keerom because we know some of their members have received military training," he added.
The government banned the group last year but it remains active in the country with considerable influence.