JAKARTA, Indonesia – The number of violations of Christians' religious rights in Indonesia reached 40 in the first five months of the year, nearly two-thirds the amount of anti-Christian actions in all of last year, according to the Jakarta Christian Communication Forum.
The Christian minority in Indonesia faced 64 cases of violations of religious freedom last year, up from 47 in 2010, said Theophilus Bela, president of the group. Bela said he was worried about the growing incidence of violence and church closures, as his group recorded just 10 anti-Christian incidents in 2009. There were 40 such incidents in 2008, he said.
At least 22 churches have been forced to close this year, including 18 in the Singkil regency of Aceh Province that were sealed last month, as local authorities either sided with or came under pressure from extremist Islamist groups in this Southeast Asian archipelago that is home to the world's largest Muslim population, according to Bela. more >>
An Indonesian atheist who posted the message "God doesn't exist" on Facebook and started an atheist page now faces up to 11 years imprisonment for breaching the most populous Muslim nation's blasphemy laws.
Alex Aan, a 31-year-old civil servant, was beaten up by a mob of people in his hometown in Pulau Punjung after he posted the comment, which included an image of the prophet Muhammad, and was then arrested and charged for blasphemy. Although Indonesia has freedom of religion laws, those only apply to people of six faiths: Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism.
The atheist is officially being charged with "insulting a major religion," which carries a maximum five-year prison sentence, but he might also get an additional six years for using the Internet to spread such "blasphemous" messages. It is believed that Aan is the first Indonesian to be tried under the state's philosophy, which requires belief in one God. The government does not allow for not believing in God, as noted in the U.S. Department of State's International Religious Freedom Report. more >>
An 8.7-magnitude earthquake hit off the northern coast of Indonesia Wednesday, triggering a tsunami alert for the region.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) has issued an Indian Ocean wide tsunami watch placing countries in the region, including Indonesia, India, and Australia, on alert.
"Sea level readings indicate a tsunami was generated. It may have already been destructive along some coasts," the latest PTWC tsunami alert read. more >>
JAKARTA, Indonesia – In a defeat for the rule of law in Indonesia, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has declined to enforce a Supreme Court ruling that a local government allow a West Java church to worship in its building.
The Bogor city government revoked the building permit of the Christian Church of Indonesia (Gereja Kristen Indonesia, or GKI) Yasmin church in February 2008; the Supreme Court ordered it be reinstated in December 2010, but Bogor Mayor Dhani Budiarto has refused.
President Yudhoyono said on Feb. 13 that he would hand the matter back to the Bogor municipal government and the Ministry of Religion. more >>
For many critics, Indonesia’s religious persecution is exemplified by the GKI Yasmin Church, which is an example of the local government’s continued apathy towards the plight of the Christian minority.
The GKI Yasmin Church, located in Bogor, Indonesia, has suffered a round of attacks in the past years. The most recent attack happened on Sunday, Jan. 15, when two members of the country's House of Representatives, Eva Kusuma Sundari and Lily Wahid, joined the GKI Christian congregation during their morning service.
The service was interrupted when members of Muslim hardline groups, the Indonesian Muslim Communication Forum (Forkami) and the Islamic Reform Movement (Garis), assaulted the Christian worshippers. more >>
Clashes broke out Sunday after protesters trying to keep Christians from their church spotted an allegedly offensive bumper sticker on a worshipper's car, causing Muslims to rally around the GKI Yasmin Church in Bogor, Indonesia.
The bumper sticker, which read “we need a friendly Islam, not an angry Islam,” was reportedly a souvenir from the family of late former President Abdurrahman Wahid. As GKI Yasmin spokesman Bona Sigalingging told the Jakarta Globe, the stickers were passed out at the anniversary of Wahid’s death on Friday.
Members of the hardline Muslim group Islamic Reform Movement crowded the GKI Yasmin Church Sunday, protesting the bumper stickers. Police officials arrived to protect the congregation, but church-goers eventually took their New Year's Eve mass to a nearby home to avoid violence. more >>