Muslims offer Indonesian Christians sanctuary at Christmas
One of Indonesia's largest Muslim organisations has offered hundreds of its buildings as safe venues for Christmas religious services amid fears of terror attacks, reports The Age in Melbourne, Australia.It also says it will provide security guards at many churches, as previously reported on Ekklesia.
"We invite our Christian brothers and sisters to say prayers on Christmas Eve and to celebrate Christmas in our schools and other buildings," said Din Syamsuddin, who chairs Muhammadiyah, a conservative Islamic organisation with millions of members.
The Jakarta Post newspaper on Friday said Din made the offer during a gathering on Thursday of religious leaders. The meeting came up with a multi-faith message of peace to be read across Indonesia ahead of three major holidays: Christmas, New Year's Day and the Islamic Day of Sacrifice on 10 January 2006.
Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim country and its Christian minority has been targeted by some hard-line Islamic groups.
The Post said more than 40 Christian houses of worship, mostly in West Java, have been closed by local authorities since 2004, in response to complaints from Muslim communities and because of a lack of clear planning procedures for the building of churches.
This year there have been strong fears that extremists might attack churches over Christmas. But local Muslims are increasingly angry about what is being done in the name of their religion.
Courtesy of Ekklesia
Alhamdullillah is Arabic for "all praise to Allah". Remember, friends, that Allah is the Arabic for God, and is the name used by Arabic-speaking Christians in their prayers. And I say "praise be to God" that these people have offered refuge and protection to their Christian brothers and sisters at this very special time.