JAKARTA, Indonesia (Compass Direct News) – The country that is home to the world’s largest Muslim population celebrated its 65th Independence Day today amid a widespread sense of distrust in the government’s ability to check attacks on churches by Islamist groups.
Muslims and Islamic organizations, Buddhists and Hindus joined hundreds of Christians for an ecumenical worship service near National Monument Square in Jakarta to protest “government inaction” over attacks on Christians and “forced closure of churches,” reported The Jakarta Globe. They had planned to hold the service outside the State Palace, but the government prohibited it due to preparations for Independence Day celebrations, the daily reported.
“Why did it take President [Susilo Bambang] Yudhoyono so many days to speak against the attacks?” the Rev. Dr. SAE Nababan, president of the World Council of Churches from Asia, told Compass. “Such carelessness can be dangerous for our democracy. Officials must not forget that they are accountable to the people.” more >>
DUBLIN (Compass Direct News) – Leaders of a church in West Java, Indonesia, demanded justice from police after a fifth attack from Muslim protesters left at least a dozen people injured Sunday.
As some 20 members of the Batak Christian Protestant Filadelfia Church (HKBP Filadelfia) in Bekasi gathered for Sunday worship on a church-owned plot of land in Ciketing, at least 300 members of the Islamic People’s Forum (FUI) and the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) broke through a police barricade and ordered them to leave, Theophilus Bela, president of the Jakarta Christian Communication Forum, told Compass. When the church members refused, the protesters assaulted the group with sticks, stones or their bare hands.
A report in The Jakarta Post reported that as many as 700 protesters took part in the attack on the congregation, which numbers 1,500 in total. A video clip of the attack shown on local broadcasting network Metro Treve confirmed only that a large and physically aggressive mob was present at the site. more >>
DUBLIN (Compass Direct News) – Around 300 Muslim protesters and 300 police officers surrounded members of the Batak Christian Protestant Church (Huria Kristen Batak Protestan or HKBP) on Sunday as they worshiped in an open field in Ciketing, Bekasi, local sources said.
“There were many police on guard, but the attackers were able to get very close to the congregation,” Theophilus Bela, president of the Jakarta Christian Communication Forum, said in a statement to international government and advocacy groups. “We are afraid that they will attack the church again next Sunday.”
He added that a protester hit the Rev. Luspida Simanjuntak on the cheek. more >>
JAKARTA, Indonesia (Compass Direct News) – Public order personnel on Monday supported Bogor police officers who demolished a house where a church regularly met in a village in Bogor Regency, West Java.
Clashes broke out with church members and others as police tore down the Narogong Pentecostal Church building in Limusnunggal village, Cileungsi sub-district, and officers arrested 10 people. The structure was located on the Narogong Highway in Bogor Regency, south of Jakarta.
Those arrested were questioned and released, according to Police Commissioner Zulkarnain Harahap. Some officers and a civilian were reportedly injured. more >>
JAKARTA, Indonesia (Compass Direct News) – The Gereja Kristen Indonesia (GKI) Taman Yasmin Church in Bogor, West Java has filed a religious discrimination appeal with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, church leaders said.
Since April 11 the congregation has held services on the roadside in front of the sealed church in stifling heat. The church pastor, the Rev. Ujang Tanusaputra, told Compass that the congregation has held Sunday services six times in front of the building that the mayor of Bogor sealed.
“We are going to continue worshipping by the roadside as part of the struggle to remove the seal,” he told Compass. more >>
DUBLIN (Compass Direct News) – Muslim organizations in Bekasi, West Java, on Sunday (June 27) declared their intention to establish paramilitary units in local mosques and a “mission center” to oppose “ongoing attempts to convert people to Christianity,” according to the national Antara news agency.
At a gathering at the large Al Azhar mosque, the leaders of nine organizations announced the results of a Bekasi Islamic Congress meeting on June 20, where they agreed to establish a mission center to halt “Christianization,” form a Laskar Pemuda youth army and push for implementation of sharia (Islamic law) in the region, The Jakarta Post reported.
“If the Muslims in the city can unite, there will be no more story about us being openly insulted by other religions,” Ahmad Salimin Dani, head of the Bekasi Islamic Missionary Council, announced at the gathering. “The center will ensure that Christians do not act out of order.” more >>