Molucca Muslim Asks Forgiveness for Forced Conversions

Publishes Open Letter to Christian Subjected to Torture

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AMBON, Indonesia, MAR. 26, 2001 (ZENIT.org-FIDES).- A Muslim woman in the Molucca Islands wrote an open letter to publicly express her community´s "shame" for the attacks on Christians by Islamic fundamentalists.



"We do not know what to say to you, especially you, the victims. From the bottom of our heart, we ask for forgiveness," Miriam Abdulah wrote in a letter published today by the Vatican missionary agency Fides.

The letter is addressed to "Christina Sagat and Friends" in Kesui. Sagat, a 32-year-old Catholic, was among the Christians tortured with circumcision and forced to abjure their faith during a surprise attack by local Muslims last November

Abdulah´s letter reads: "How sad I felt on learning that, in these modern times, people are still forced to abjure their faith. Adding to my sadness was the fact that this was carried out by my Muslim brothers ... toward their fellow Indonesians."

She said she did not believe the initial reports of violent, forced conversions. However, "when the fact was confirmed by parliaments in England and the U.S., by the U.N. and Australia, and by some Muslim friends," she said she had to accept it. "I felt very sad, and most Muslims felt this way."

"I hope and pray that Muslim leaders will have the humility to speak up and apologize to you and your fellow Christians in our name," Abdulah´s letter continued. "However, this letter ... will hardly influence them to take such a step. Forced Islamization is based on the [assumption] that if the whole of Indonesia becomes Muslim, it will be an ordered country, without unrest. Apparently, among us there are those who close their eyes to what is happening in countries like Iran and Afghanistan: instead of peace, there is chaos and despotism."

The letter expresses concern for Christina Sagat´s self-image: "I hope and pray that you, my Christian sister, will not be haunted by self-depreciation and feelings of guilt because of renouncing your faith. I am sure that Allah, in whom we both believe as the All Merciful, who is full of love, will forgive your renouncement, which you did under pressure. The sin is not on you; it is on those who forced you to do this and threatened your life."