Indonesia’s Radical Islamic Group Not Welcomed in East Timor

The presence of this Muslim group could be a threat to the religious harmony of this country.

Newsroom (16/09/2022 1:00 PM, Gaudium Press) Haji Abdullah Inacio Antonio Soares, vice president of the Muslim Community of East Timor, has turned down an offer from a major Indonesian Muslim group to open its branch in his Catholic-majority country, fearing it would destroy religious harmony. Muslims are only less than one percent of East Timor’s population of 1.3 million, with 97 percent Catholic.

Nahdlatul Ulama [NU] is the largest moderate Islamic organization in Indonesia, but Soares “fears that the presence of such an organization will really bring new problems to our country.” “As a human being and a Muslim, I welcome their presence, but opening a branch here as they wish is not easy,” he stressed to UCA News.

The delegation met with leaders of East Timor’s Muslim community and President Jose Ramos-Horta and discussed issues related to reconciliation, human brotherhood and peace.

The visit aimed to establish “friendship and consolidation” and to open a branch office in that country.

The group is welcome to work with Muslims in East Timor in social areas such as education. However, opening a branch of this organization would lead other organizations to do the same, putting at risk the future of the coexistence of different religions that “so far has gone well” and should not be disturbed.

Soares’ rejection was supported on social media.

Faralata-Ratutey Arapausa’e Simao wrote on Facebook that East Timor does not need Islamic organizations “because in Indonesia it is difficult for Christians to establish churches.”

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In another post, they said that if Indonesians opened a branch, it would possibly open up avenues for radical groups to enter their country.

Compiled by Zephania Gangl

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