Construction of Christian School in Indonesia Draws Protest of Islamic Extremists

Hundreds of Muslims in Indonesia protested against the construction of a Christian school recently and threatened to destroy the school if completed.

On Sept. 23, a mob of Islamic extremists from three different Islamic groups gathered in Cikampek, a city south-east of Jakarta, to rally against the building of a Christian school, according to a report by AsiaNews.

“We are ready to fight against the building and die to defend our land,” said a speaker among the protesters according to AsiaNews. “If Yadika does not destroy the building, we will come again to do it.”

Abdi Karya (Yadika) Foundation, which was founded by a Christian named Raja Darianus Lungguk Sitorus, directs the construction of the school.

One of the group leaders, Ustadz Akhmad Zaenudin, president of the Karawang section of the Islam Defender front, stated that the protest was against proselytism and saw that “the school would be a means of proselytism,” conveyed AsiaNews. The three groups, Islam Defender Front, Islam Defender’s Network and the Muslim Movement declared that they were against proselytism and not Christians.

Wens Sitorus, chairman of Yadika’s education section, countered the attack and said the school does not intend to convert people. He supported his statement by directing attention to several schools in the country that the foundation operates, challenging anyone to find “any indication of proselytism there,” AsiaNews reported

Yet, this is not the first time that there has been protest against the school. In 2004, the school’s construction was forced to halt due to repeated deeds of damage and violence against the school’s leaders.

More recently, pamphlets were distributed to local inhabitants of Cikampek urging Muslims to participate in a “Grand Roll Call against Proselytism.” The handout also claimed that the local residents were opposed to Yadika from the beginning. The Muslim extremists supported their claim by stating that at one point the Karawang district head withdrew the school’s building permit after talks with the Cikampek Muslim Movement. The pamphlet also accused Yadika foundation of bribing the government, politicians, and NGOs to defend it.

According to Sitorus, the incomplete school is no longer owned by Yadika foundation but was sold to the district head and to the Pamor Foundation, which hopes to use the school to educate the local population.