Indonesian Girl Dies After Shooting; Leaders Stress Religious Tolerance

As one more Indonesian girl died in a series of suspicious attacks in Poso, religious leaders and government officials express deep concern over Christian-Muslim tolerance.

After another Indonesian girl died in a series of suspicious attacks in the Poso district of Indonesia’s Central Sulawesi province, religious leaders and government officials expressed deep concern over Christian-Muslim tolerance.

Siti Nuraini, 17, a Muslim, died in Poso Kota general hospital on Wednesday, Nov. 9, one day after she and her 17-year-old Christian friend Ivon were shot in the head near a Pentecostal church in the Gatot Subroto area of Central Sulawesi’s Poso district. Ivon remains in a critical condition, according to sources from U.K.-based human rights advocate Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

The attack closely followed the beheadings of three Christian schoolgirls on Oct. 29 in Poso. CSW reported that in the plastic bag in which the heads of girls were found, a written warning read "100 Christian teenagers would be killed."

"It is feared that this latest shooting is linked to the fulfillment of this threat," stated CSW.

As there are now worries that the long-standing Christian-Muslim clashes in Poso could be reignited, religious leaders and government officials have stressed for tolerance between Christians and Muslims.

According to the Jakarta Post, Din Syamsudin, the chairman of Muhammadiyah – the second largest Muslim organization in Indonesia – had a dialogue with the Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI) on Thursday.

Din called for joint campaign involving leaders of the two religious groups to promote tolerance, the Jakarta Post reported. He reiterated that extreme actions are "absolutely unacceptable and unlawful" and therefore "must be stopped."

"Muslim organizations must be able to tackle the tendency toward extremism, but Christian organizations should take the same measures against groups that incite hatred against Muslims," Din said.

Indonesian Chief of the Constitutional Court Jimly Asshidiqie said tension between Christian and Muslim communities was a result of miscommunication and misperception, reported the Jakarta Post.

"Christians do not understand the Islamic tradition and its teachings and the same goes for Muslims regarding Christianity. The tension could be eased if both sides gain a common understanding of each other's tradition," he said.

The Rev. Rinaldy Damanik, Moderator for the Central Sulawesi Christian Reform Church and Chairman of the Central Sulawesi Churches Crisis Co-ordination Center noted however that the attack was “not just a religious matter, but an attack on human rights.”

“This attack is part of the militants' efforts to provoke further violence,” Damanik told CSW.

Similarly, in a released statement, CSW Advocacy Director Tina Lambert said it was “clear” that the latest attack on an innocent school girl was “designed to provoke further religious violence on Sulawesi.”

“We urge the Indonesian government to do more to protect the innocent and prevent a return to widespread inter-religious violence.”

According to CSW, Indonesian Army Chief of Staff General Djoko Santoso confirmed on Wednesday that five people were being held for investigation in relation to the beheadings.

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