Thursday, October 05, 2006

Sept 17, 2006--All Quiet on the Waterfront.

All Quiet on the Waterfront.

By ANDY GREENE, KAPress Writer

Sunday, September 17, 2006, 9:10 PM Local Time

SUNDA KELAPA, JAKARTA – On a day in which churches were burnt, a nun was murdered, and protests erupted across the Muslim world, business continued as usual in Jakarta’s historic harbor, Sunda Kelapa. Of the ten dock workers and ship hands polled late Sunday afternoon, none were aware of the controversy caused by the remarks made last Tuesday by Pope Benedict XVI in Germany.

During a public discussion at the University of Regensburg about the relationship between Christianity and Islam, the pope quoted the 15th-century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Palaeologus by saying, “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

These words, quoted at the university where the pope had once been a professor and vice rector, have enflamed many Muslims worldwide.

AP reported seven churches were firebombed this weekend in the Palestinian West Bank. Such attacks are particularly troubling since relations between Muslims and Christians in this region are generally considered to be peaceful.

In Somalia, there is concern that the murder Sunday of an elderly Italian nun is tied to furor over the pope’s comments. According to the AP, gunmen standing outside the hospital where the nun had worked since 2002 shot her four times in the back as she was going to lunch. The murder took place hours following a top Somali cleric’s public condemnation of the pope’s remarks.

All was not silent in Jakarta. Less than 30 miles from picturesque Sunda Kelapa, approximately 1,000 Indonesian demonstrators rallied to denounce the pope. “Only Muslims can understand what is jihad,” protest organizer, Heri Budianto was quoted by Reuters as having said. “It is impossible that jihad can be linked with violence, we Muslims have no violent character.”

Chief Indonesian Muslim Cleric Sheikh Marouf Amin was also, according to ANTARA news agency, disturbed by the pope’s quotation and said, “Such insulting and hurtful statements should not be made by a man of such high stature as the Pope.”

However, Catholic priest Benny Susetyo did not believe that those who were angry completely understood the pope’s message. He told The Jakarta Post on Saturday that the media was responsible for the uproar by failing to fully explain the context in which the pope had made the remarks. “It would be better for us to read the complete text first,” he said.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono urged the 240 million citizens of his nation to remain clam. Quoted from Havana, Cuba by Asianews, he said, "Indonesian Muslims should have wisdom, patience, and self-restraint to address this sensitive issue. ... We need them so that harmony among people is not at stake."

At least on this Sunday afternoon, in Sunda Kelapa, the president’s wished-for harmony was thriving. With the salt air wet and heavy from the aroma of clove cigarettes and the rough banter of seafaring humor, the men of the harbor were only concerned about their unloading of the shipments of tropical iron wood that was piled high aboard the double and triple mast wooden clippers roped up to the quay. For these men, toiling beneath the tropical sun, the pope and the world’s problems remained a world away.

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