Islamic Militants Attack One of Indonesia's Largest Evangelical Schools

One of the largest evangelical theology schools in Indonesia was harassed for the second time this month by a mob of more than 200 Islamic militants past weekend.

Arastamar Evangelical School of Theology (SETIA), located in east Jakarta, had just suffered from an attack on Mar. 8 when a mob of some 200 militants besieged the school for three hours starting at 9:30 a.m. (local time) on Saturday demanding the closure of the school, reported Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

The school, which claims some 1,500 students, said it has a good relationship with local Muslims and that the mob was from another area.

The incident caught the attention of local police and some 400 officers were reportedly dispatched to prevent the mob from harming the school.

"This is now a common occurrence in Indonesia," said SETIA's vice principal, Juwanto, according to CSW. "But today the government showed that it cares about the situation."

In the earlier attack on Mar. 8 - only three days before the school was besieged - militants burned down new dormitories and outlying buildings, accusing the school of being illegal.

The school says it is legal and has the official permits for all its buildings as well as its new dormitory.

"This incident (school attack) is deeply concerning as it took place in the capital rather than one of the regions which has experienced problems before," commented Mervyn Thomas, CSW's chief executive.

"It also targeted a well established institute with all the official permits. We are pleased the Indonesian authorities deployed police to quell this attack, but they must now send a clear signal to the militants that attacks of this nature will not be tolerated.""

The Front Pembela Islam (FPI) and Betawi Rempug Forum (FBR) groups are suspected to be behind the school burning.

FPI has a history of violent demonstrations but has usually only targeted nightclubs and restaurants serving alcohol during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Violence against the Christian minority in the world's most populous Muslim nation is not a new phenomenon.

Indonesia, a country where 90 percent of its 220 million people adhere to Islam, has been plagued by several persecution incidents that have garnered international protests.

Most notable was the beheading of three young Christian girls aged 15-17 on their way to their private Christian school.

There have also been several bombings of churches during Christian holidays and in markets in Christian communities in the last several years.

"We do not know if this group will return. We need to pay attention to security and pray to the Lord," concluded SETIA's vice principal.

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