Bekasi, Indonesia: threat level rises
pastor is stabbed while another is beaten
-- Bekasi regency on the eastern outskirts of
is 98 percent Muslim and a fundamentalist stronghold. Recent economic
development coupled with an influx of non-Javanese workers is making Bekasi
more ethnically, culturally and religiously diverse. Consequently, Bekasi's
Islamic fundamentalists are demanding Sharia (Islamic) Law be implemented,
specifically to 'limit apostasy'. (Sharia law mandates death for apostasy
and bans 'fitna' i.e. anything that could shake the faith of a Muslim.) On
Sunday 27 June, Bekasi's Islamic leaders made a public appeal for all Bekasi
Muslims to prepare for jihad. Demanding an end to the 'Christianisation' of
Bekasi, they warned that if talks with the churches fail, then jihad would
commence. They recommended that in the meantime, all Bekasi mosques
establish and train their own paramilitary units ('laskars') in readiness.
(See: RLPB 062, June update).
Subsequently on 3 July, as one Bekasi mosque trained some 100 mujahedeen in
the open air, another one erected an enormous banner calling for the death
of a local Protestant pastor, picturing him with his head in a flaming
noose. Indonesian MP Eva Kusuma Sundari claimed to have information
implicating the TNI (Indonesian military) as complicit in violence
perpetrated by the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI). (See: RLPB 063, 7 July.)
15 years the authorities have refused Bekasi's 1500-strong Batak Christian
Protestant Church permission to build a worship centre. Recently the church
was told they are not even allowed to worship together in their homes as
this would violate new local bi-laws. Commencing Sunday 31 July, a core
group of members started meeting for prayer and worship in the open air on
the church's own land. Each Sunday the small group sings hymns, prays and
hears the word while Muslim fundamentalists hurl insults and abuse, shoes
and other objects across a police barricade. On Sunday 8 Aug, some 300
Islamic militants pushed through the police lines and beat the Christians as
they attempted to flee. Several believers required hospitalisation. (See:
RLPB 068, 11 Aug.)
following Sunday, 15 Aug, some 1200 representatives of religious minorities
rallied in Jakarta to protest government inaction in the face of escalating
Islamic intolerance and violence. (See: RLPB 070, Aug Update.) Amongst the
churches, Bekasi's Batak Christian Pr otestant Church has come to embody the
struggle and so has received the most media attention. However, it is
actually only one of numerous churches being repressed and persecuted in
For more background with further detail see:
Religious Liberty Monitoring:
12 Sept, as Reverend Sihombing -- an elder at Bekasi's Batak Christian
Protestant Church -- walked toward the church's land, he was ambushed by
Islamic militants. When the Reverend Luspida Simanjuntak rushed to his aid,
she was clubbed on her face, head and back.
pastors have been hospitalised. Rev Sihombing is in a critical condition in
intensive care suffering multiple stab wounds to the abdomen. It was
reported on Monday that the attackers had been identified and that
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) had denouncing the
violence and was appealing for justice.
Wednesday, nine suspects had been arrested (at least two others are evading
police). Police have told reporters that, despite all suspicions to the
contrary, they do not believe the motive was religious, or that the attack
was necessarily pre-meditated, or that any of the attackers belonged to any
'mass organisation'.Meanwhile President SBY told reporters that the stabbing
occurred because the Christians had chosen an in appropriate place to
worship, adding that he sees the problem as a difficult one.
SBY's political alliances leave him dependent on the support of Islamic
parties in the parliament. As such, he will doubtless want the Islamists
appeased, which would only further elevate the threat level for Christians.
The case must be watched. For right across the Muslim world the trend is for
'reconciliation' (i.e. kiss and make up; Christians accept responsibility
and drop all charges in exchange for 'peace'); or whitewashing and
scapegoating (i.e. deny religious motive and find some low-risk individual/s
to blame and/or punish for the crime). Through these means Sharia may be
upheld, Islamisation may be advanced, and dhimmitude (subjugation of
non-Muslims) may be established, all behind a facade of fake civility. These
are watershed days for Indonesia.
PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL:
President Yudhoyono to make a bold stand in support of justice and
Indonesia's constitut ional pluralism and religious liberty. 'The king's
heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever
he pleases.' (Proverbs 21:1 NIV)
- use the
evil and hatred inherent in this violence to shock many Muslims, awakening
them to the inflexible religious totalitarianism of Islam. And may God's
intervention ensure that this persecution produces the opposite of what was
intended. (See Isaiah 35:5-7)
peace, comfort, healing and strength to the Reverends Sihombing and
Simanjuntak; to their ethnic-Batak congregation in Bekasi; and to all West
Java's repressed and persecuted churches.
Provided by our
friends at Israel Today
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