19 February 2018

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02/11/2018 INDONESIA

Machete attack against priest during Mass in Yogyakarta

Fr Karl-Edmund Prier, a German-born Jesuit, suffered injuries to his back, head and hands. Catholics are urged not to spread panic and tensions via social media. For experts, extremist groups are preparing for upcoming elections by causing ethnic and religious polarisation.

Yogyakarta (AsiaNews) – Fr Karl-Edmund Prier, a Jesuit priest and liturgical music expert, was attacked and wounded in a machete attack during Mass in St Lidwina Chapel Church in Bedog, Sleman Regency (Yogyakarta).

The attack took place during today’s morning Mass. Fr Prier, who works at the Liturgical Music Centre, serves the St Lidwina community on week-ends. The church is part of Kumetiran parish, Yogyakarta.

Eyewitnesses told AsiaNews that a stranger armed with a machete similar to those used by samurais entered the church compound through the front door, shouting slogans.

After striking some churchgoers sitting in front of the church façade, he marched into the building where Fr Prier was starting to recite the Gloria prayer. Once at the level of the altar, the attacker began slashing at the priest with the machete.

Fr Prier suffered major injuries to his back, head and hands and was taken to Panti Rapih Catholic Hospital in Yogyakarta where he underwent surgery.

A soldier who lives near the church, upon hearing commotion from the building, went to see what was happening. Upon seeing the attacker, he fired a few warning shots, telling the stranger to surrender. When the latter refused, the soldier shot and killed him.

Please, no social media

So far, neither the Church nor government authorities have issued any statement. A military chaplain at the Yogyakarta Air Force Academy, Fr Yos Bintoro, issued a statement, asking on all Catholics not to spread shocking pictures and "unconfirmed information" about the incident on social media.

Fr Bintoro’s statement follows a spate of social media posts with pictures of the attack and comments and explanations about it. The priest thinks that all this can only increase "bad feelings" by Christians against "other parties".

"Identity politics" and "warring" parties

According to some political analysts, extremist groups are intentionally creating this type of situations ahead of local elections in 171 regions in September 2018, and the presidential election in 2019.

The aim is clear, i.e. "maintain" negative feelings so that "identity politics" based on religion and ethnicity can influence elections.

For decades, Indonesian society has seen provocations that have led to acts of violence against "non-peer” groups, i.e. people who are "not like us" and who “do not belong to our group".

Primordial identities based on ethnicity and religion have been the "easiest" way by which emotions, violence and conflicts can be triggered between different groups in society.

Today's priest attack is the second of its kind in Indonesia. In August 2016, Fr Albertus Pandiangan, a Capuchin priest, was attacked by a stranger armed with a dagger during Mass in St Joseph Church in Medan (North Sumatera). The bishop of Medan, Mgr Anicetus B. Sinaga, also a Capuchin, and the priest later forgave the attacker.

See also

02/06/2014 INDONESIA
Yogyakarta, another attack on Sleman’s Christains
A group of Islamic fundamentalists attacked aProtestant community’s prayer hall, accusing the pastor of wanting to transform it into an illegal Church. It is the same area where the assault against the Catholic Parish of Banteng. The police, present during the raid, did not intervene.

02/02/2018 13:28:00 INDONESIA
Islamic radicals against parish charity work in Yogyakarta

Parish provides basic necessities and free medical check-ups to people in need. The extremists have been trying to prevent this initiative in areas where most residents are Muslim. Ominous protest rallies and blockades are held in Banguntapan and Jaranan. For a Catholic lawyer, this is “public persecution".

17/11/2011 INDONESIA
West Java: moderate Muslims support Yasmin Church against the fundamentalist
The controversy over the construction of a Protestant church denied a permit by mayor continues, despite the Supreme Court ruling. Both parties seek support from different Muslim organizations.

09/09/2010 INDONESIA
Indonesian religious group against plans to "Burn the Koran"
Semarang parish organizes an evening meetings with Muslims to discuss, pray and break the fast together. Mutual appreciation and satisfaction. Burn the Koran is an "unpopular and sectarian initiative ".

11/11/2011 INDONESIA
West Java, Muslim and Christian intellectuals against mayor’s attempts to cancel Protestant church
Diani Budiarto, regardless of a ruling by the Constitutional Court, will not guarantee freedom of Christian worship to the Yasmin Church of. Muslim Professor calls on the government to punish the official, but warns that one case of intolerance should not be generalized. Priest recalls the attacks on 47 churches in 2010 and claims the right to religious freedom.

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