Ambon (AsiaNews/Agencies) The governments is allocating new money for the reconstruction of 144 places of worship destroyed during the sectarian violence that created havoc on the Maluku Islands between 1999 and 2003, said Muh Maftuh Basyuni, Minister for Religious Affairs, in a speech he delivered in Ambon on October 23 at the opening ceremony of the 35th Synod of Protestant Churches of Maluku.
Maluku Governor Karel Albert Ralahalu confirmed that 60 places of worship had already been rebuilt (26 churches, 24 mosques and 10 Pura Dalem (literally, the temples of the dead) and Klenteng (Chinese temples) and handed over to the population.
The Governor also said that the government had agreed to rebuild some churches, mosques and temples at new sites because their respective communities had moved away from the original ones.
On October 22 both Governor Ralahalu and Minister Basyuni attended the Nuzulul Quran (Revelation of the Qur'an) celebrations held at the al-Fatah Mosque in Ambon by the local Muslim community.
After the event, the Governor said that the "Maluku [Islands] are back to normal. However, there are still many things left to do. The economic sector is developing and the reconstruction of houses of worship, administration offices and other facilities is still underway".
Minister Basyuni urged people to go back to Pela Gandong, the pact of fraternity that once governed relations between groups in the province.
"It depends on our will whether or not Pela Gandong is still able to build harmony," he said.
The ecumenical delegation will be in the country from January 7 to 16. Meetings scheduled with the authorities of the Religious Affairs Office and with the Three-Self Patriotic Movement; preaching in the oldest Protestant churches in Beijing; visits to Shanghai and Xian. But unofficial Christians (80 million) are more numerous than the official ones (20 million) and criticize the Movement’s subjection to the Party.