Indonesian Islamic group eyes ‘soft power’ with Spanish church purchase

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Indonesia’s second-largest Muslim organisation Muhammadiyah plans to buy and convert a church in Spain’s AlcalaAnalysts say the purchase likely hopes to outcompete rival group Nahdlatul Ulama’s influence overseas. NU is Indonesia’s largest Islamic organisation with over 90 million members, more than Muhammadiyah’s 60 million

Resty Woro Yuniar

Resty Woro Yuniar

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Muhammadiyah plans to buy a “neglected” church in Spain’s Alcala, about a 15-minute drive from Madrid. File photo: Xinhua

Muhammadiyah plans to buy a “neglected” church in Spain’s Alcala, about a 15-minute drive from Madrid. File photo: Xinhua

Indonesia’s second-largest Muslim organisation is seeking to “enlighten the universe” with its teachings of moderate Islam by converting a Spanish church into a mosque, in what observers say is a bid for soft power over its rival.

Muhammadiyah’s plan was unveiled by its East Java branch during the organisation’s nationwide virtual conference on Saturday. Saad Ibrahim, leader of the branch, said the group was planning to buy an old church in Spain’s Alcala, about a 15-minute drive from Madrid.

“Hopefully, this will be a movement for all of us so that [Allah’s blessings] can be realised through us,” Saad said in a statement released by the branch following the conference.

more https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/lifestyle-culture/article/3198755/indonesian-islamic-group-eyes-soft-power-spanish-church-purchase

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