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WCC general secretary meets Indonesian president
Accompanying the WCC general secretary on his official visit to the president's office were the general chairman of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia, Dr Sularso Sopater, the general secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) Dr Feliciano Carino, and WCC International Relations executive secretary Dr Clement John. Raiser is currently half-way through a nine-day (17-25 March) tour of Indonesia, the first by a WCC general secretary in 30 years.
During a press conference after the meeting, Raiser reported that he had first expressed his appreciation for the president's religious and ethnic tolerance, and then raised the topic of anti-Christian violence in Indonesia. The WCC is as much concerned about Muslim victims as about burnings of churches, Raiser declared.
In responding to a January WCC letter about anti-Christian riots, the Indonesian president had predicted that these would die down. Yet, as Raiser pointed out, efforts to resolve the problem so far had been insufficient and ineffective.
Abdurrahman Wahid - or Gus Dur as he is familiarly known - emphasized the magnitude of the problem, part of which is due to an "imbalance" left by the preceding regime, and by the Dutch colonial administration before that. The latter had left a legacy of many Christian soldiers, considered as officials. When two past presidents replaced 38 Christian officials with Muslims, the Christians had protested. For the president, the first thing to do was to correct the imbalance. But he agreed with the WCC general secretary that confrontation in some areas, like Aceh, had been fuelled by armed forces' intervention.
On another recent example of anti-Christian violence - the burning by hundreds of Muslim demonstrators of a Christian seminary on the outskirts of Jakarta in December 1999 - the Indonesian president openly acknowledged that the retired Jakarta police chief instead of keeping security "was himself doing it".
Photographs of the meeting will be available from 24 March; e-mail:photo, tel: (+41.22) 791.6295