Wednesday, September 15, 2010

073. Bekasi, Indonesia: threat level rises

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 073 | Wed 15 Sep 2010

BEKASI, INDONESIA: THREAT LEVEL RISES

The threat level facing Christians in Bekasi Regency, West Java, has been rising continuously since 27 June when Bekasi's Islamic leaders publicly denounced 'Christianisation' of Bekasi (98 percent Muslim) and urged Bekasi Muslims to prepare for jihad.

For more details see Religious Liberty Monitoring:
in particular
http://elizabethkendal.blogspot.com/2010/07/bekasi-west-java-indonesiadhimmitude.html
http://elizabethkendal.blogspot.com/2010/06/indonesia-fitna-and-apostaphobia-in.html

For some 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 by-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 August, 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 August.) The following Sunday, 15 August, 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, August Update.) Amongst the churches, Bekasi's Batak Christian Protestant 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 West Java.

On Sunday 12 September, as Pastor Sihombing -- an elder in 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. Both pastors have been hospitalised, with Sihombing 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 denounced the violence and was appealing for justice. By Wednesday, nine suspects had been arrested with others 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 premeditated, 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 inappropriate place to worship, adding that he sees the problem as a difficult one.

President SBY's political alliances leave him dependent on the support of Islamic parties in the parliament. Consequently 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 there are two trends: 'reconciliation', with Christians pushed to accept responsibility and drop all charges in exchange for 'peace'; or whitewashing and scapegoating, by denying religious motivation and finding some low-risk individuals to blame 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 critical days for Indonesia.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL:

* move President Yudhoyono to make a bold stand in support of justice and Indonesia's constitutional 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; may God's intervention ensure that this persecution produces the opposite of what was intended. (See Isaiah 35:5-7.)

* bring peace, comfort, healing and strength to Pastors Sihombing and Simanjuntak, to their ethnic-Batak congregation in Bekasi and to all West Java's repressed and persecuted churches.

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SUMMARY TO USE IN BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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THREAT LEVEL RISING IN BEKASI, INDONESIA

The threat level facing Christians in Bekasi Regency, West Java, has been rising continuously since 27 June when Bekasi's Islamic leaders publicly denounced 'Christianisation' of Bekasi (98 percent Muslim) and urged Bekasi Muslims to prepare for jihad. Christians have since been threatened with death and physically attacked during worship. President Yudhoyono's dependence on Islamic parties in parliament keeps him from intervening. Last Sunday 12 September Pastor Sihombing was ambushed by militants as he walked to the vacant land his church owns and meets on for worship. As Reverend Luspida Simanjuntak rushed to his aid, she was clubbed on the face, head and back. Both were hospitalised, with Pastor Sihombing in a critical condition having suffered multiple stab wounds to the abdomen. Please pray for the Church in Indonesia.