ISLAM and MUSLIMS IN EAST TIMOR

      

General Information

Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste

National name: Republika Demokratika Timor Lorosa'e/Republica Democratica de Timor-Leste

Total area: 5,641 sq mi (14,609 sq km)

Population (2008 est.): 1,107,432

Capital and largest city (2003 est.): Dili, 50,800

Monetary unit: U.S. dollar

Languages: Tetum, Portuguese (official); Bahasa Indonesia, English; other indigenous languages, including Tetum, Galole, Mambae, and Kemak

Ethnicity/race: Austronesian (Malayo-Polynesian), Papuan, small Chinese minority

National Holiday: Independence Day, November 28

Religions: Roman Catholic 90%, Islam 4%, Protestant 3%, Hindu 0.5%, Buddhist, animist (1992 est.)

Literacy rate: 58.6% (2002)

Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2004 est.): $370 million; per capita $800. Real growth rate: 1.8%. Inflation: 1.4%.

East Timor is located in the eastern part of Timor, an island in the Indonesian archipelago that lies between the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean. East Timor includes the enclave of Oecussi, which is located within West Timor (Indonesia). After Indonesia, East Timor's closest neighbor is Australia, 400 mi to the south. It is semiarid and mountainous.

Timor was first colonized by the Portuguese in 1520. The Dutch, who claimed many of the surrounding islands, took control of the western portion of the island in 1613. Portugal and the Netherlands fought over the island until an 1860 treaty divided Timor, granting Portugal the eastern half of the island as well as the western enclave of Oecussi (the first Portuguese settlement on the island). Australia and Japan fought each other on the island during World War II; nearly 50,000 East Timorese died during the subsequent Japanese occupation.

In 1949, the Netherlands gave up its colonies in the Dutch East Indies, including West Timor, and the nation of Indonesia was born. East Timor remained under Portuguese control until 1975, when the Portuguese abruptly pulled out after 455 years of colonization. The sudden Portuguese withdrawal left the island vulnerable. On July 16, 1976, nine days after the Democratic Republic of East Timor was declared an independent nation, Indonesia invaded and annexed it. Although no country except Australia officially recognized the annexation, Indonesia's invasion was sanctioned by the United States and other western countries, who had cultivated Indonesia as a trading partner and cold-war ally (Fretilin, the East Timorese political party spearheading independence, was Marxist at the time).

Indonesia's invasion and its brutal occupation of East Timor—small, remote, and desperately poor—largely escaped international attention. East Timor's resistance movement was violently suppressed by Indonesian military forces, and more than 200,000 Timorese were reported to have died from famine, disease, and fighting since the annexation. Indonesia's human rights abuses finally began receiving international notice in the 1990s, and in 1996 two East Timorese activists, Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo and José Ramos-Horta, received the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to gain freedom peacefully.

After Indonesia's hard-line president Suharto left office in 1998, his successor, B. J. Habibie, unexpectedly announced his willingness to hold a referendum on East Timorese independence, reversing 25 years of Indonesian intransigence. As the referendum on self-rule drew closer, fighting between separatist guerrillas and pro-Indonesian paramilitary forces in East Timor intensified. The UN-sponsored referendum had to be rescheduled twice because of violence. On Aug. 30, 1999, 78.5% of the population voted to secede from Indonesia. But in the days following the referendum, pro-Indonesian militias and Indonesian soldiers retaliated by razing towns, slaughtering civilians, and forcing a third of the population out of the province. After enormous international pressure, Indonesia finally agreed to allow UN forces into East Timor on Sept. 12. Led by Australia, an international peacekeeping force began restoring order to the ravaged region. The UN Transitional Authority in East Timor (UNTAET) then governed the territory for nearly three years. On May 20, 2002, nationhood was declared.

Islamic History and Muslims

Islam is a minority religion in East Timor. Muslims make up 4% of the population.  Today, East Timor's 2,000 or so Muslims comprises Indonesian migrants who have stayed on post-independence as well as Timorese Muslims.   The Muslim community has found itself in a difficult position in independent East Timor.  Islam is still strongly associated with Indonesia and the Muslim community has been made to feel partly responsible for the 24-years of brutal occupation.muslim organisation in east timor  In the early days of the transition, there were attacks on both Muslims and mosques.  

In December 2002, a riot erupted in the capital city, Dili, and a mosque was attacked, as was the home of East Timor's prime minister, also a Muslim. There are now Muslim communities in around 6 of East Timor's 13 districts, and there are Mosques in Los Palos, Baucau and Viqueque. Tensions have eased and the Muslim community has sought to build bridges with other faith groups. 

In 2006, during the holy month of Ramadan, the 500 Muslims of Dili, the capital city of East Timor, were harassed by the largely Catholic populace, and forced to take shelter in the Annur Mosque. José Ramos-Horta, the Prime Minister of East Timor, condemned the attacks.

 

  Islamic Centers and Organizations

Masjid Al-Amal, Behind National Police PNTL Head Quarters, Baucau, EAST TIMOR. Directions: Distance 120 km (2.30 hrs) drive from Dili. 15 min drive from Baucau Airport. General Information: About 15 muslim families only. Masjid Al Amal Baucau have also a centre for Orphans, the Orphans centre running on the donations.

Centro da Comunidade Islamica de Timor-Leste, Rua da Mesquita Al-munawarah Fatuhada-Marconi Po. Box 76, Dili, Timor-Leste ( East Timor ) , EAST TIMOR. Phone: +670-7232021 Fax: +670 - 3322398 Email: arief_sagran@yahoo.com General Activities: Area that need attention and assistance for the welfare and political development of our Islamic community are : • Arabic and English Language teaching class for young and old. • Kindergarten (Pre-school Education) 3 years – 6 years children in the basic teaching of Islam. • Classroom for tuition in reading and writing the Holy Qur’an. • Islamic Library – with books, journals, newspapers. • Islamic Center : a one-stop Islamic Religious Affairs and Culture Center. A focal point of meeting place and interaction among all Muslims. A place for religious and non-religious affairs. Example : 1. Seminars by local and visiting delegates 2. Marriage Ceremony & Solemnization 3. Registration of Muslim population data base 4. Others • Islamic Welfare Board : 1. Provide assistance and Jenazah vehicle for bereaved family. 2. Assistance for an Orphanage (food and lodging) 3. Assistance for Hajj-Bound pilgrims, to facilitate their effort in performing the 5th principle of Islam. • Mosques Maintenance / Rebuilding efforts. Such as repair roofs, ceilings, electrical, plumbing and sanitation facilities.

   Muslim Owned Business

Haq Accounting Consultant Lda. Comoro, Dili, , EAST TIMOR. Email: hacdili@gmail.com General Information: Accountant/Consultant/Auditor

References
Islam in East Timor ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_in_East_Timor  , June, 2008).
Info please ( http://www.infoplease.com/atlas/country/easttimor.html ,  June, 2008).
Islam Finder ( http://www.islamicfinder.org/cityPrayerNew.php?country=east_timor  , June, 2008).
Anonymous, Documents from Representatives of Islamic Organizations in East Timor, June 2008.
Faith and post-conflict peace building in East Timor ( http://ciir.live.poptech.coop/interfaith/AssociatesInternal/91756/92094/east_timor/  , June, 2008).