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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        7  February 2011

Interfaith week in Indonesia starts badly

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As hundreds of Indonesians from different religions converged on Jakarta's Istora Senayan to acknowledge a UN-sponsored interfaith harmony week, members of a minority Muslim sect were killed during an attack by angry locals in Cikeusik, Banten.

According to police, three Ahmadiyah members were killed and six were severely injured after a mob numbering roughly 1,500 stormed the home of an Ahmadi man in Cikeusik, Pandeglang district, and demanded he stop hosting sect-related services.

Meanwhile, on Sunday afternoon, Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) deputy chief Din Syamsuddin addressed a crowd boasting a diversity of religious beliefs in Jakarta.

"It is our hope that this event is able to send out a message to followers of all religions in Indonesia - let us, as a nation, uphold unity and oneness," said Din, who also leads the Indonesian Inter-Religious Council.

The gathering was held in conjunction with World Interfaith Harmony Week. The UN General Assembly unanimously passed a resolution in 2010 to recognize the event annually during the first week of February.

The observance is being marked globally with meetings, religious services and the publication of academic papers and religious statements in the hope that adherents of every belief system and non-believers can build harmony and understanding through discussion.

When asked to comment on the attack, Din only said: "I have not received that information. In any case, [the Ahmadiyah] matter is more the jurisdiction of the MUI."

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