Wednesday, July 7, 2010

063. Bekasi (West Java), Indonesia: jihad threat level high

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 063 | Wed 07 Jul 2010


On Sunday 27 June Islamic fundamentalist leaders at the Bekasi Islamic Congress demanded the city administration of Bekasi, West Java, enact Sharia (Islamic) laws so as to 'limit' apostasy. (Sharia limits apostasy by making it a capital offence.) They also proposed that every mosque in Bekasi form its own paramilitary unit ('laskar') that can be quickly mobilised for 'war' against Christians if 'Christianisation' is not halted in line with Muslim demands.

The next day militants belonging to the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) raided a restaurant in Banyuwangi, East Java, where MPs were running a health bill familiarisation program. FPI secretary general, Awit Mashuri, defended the FPI's actions, telling TVOne that the FPI is not a law unto itself and always 'coordinates' with state apparatus before taking any action. According to Awit, on this occasion the FPI's intelligence came from a 'district military intelligence unit'. The FPI claimed the raid was necessary to destroy an illegal meeting of 'Communists'. Outraged Indonesian legislators called for the FPI to be banned. However, others simply recommended rule of law, noting that if the FPI is banned other groups will just emerge in its place.

This is the watershed issue on which the future of Indonesia hangs: is the government prepared to enforce the law, especially in the context of rising Islamic fundamentalism, belligerence and 'talibanisation'? According to Eva Kusuma Sundari, an Indonesian MP with the Democratic Party of Struggle, 'There is information saying the FPI is a pet of the TNI [Indonesian military], and the police hesitate to deal face-to-face with the military, because police consider the armed forces their elder brother.' Of course the Defence Ministry denied the allegation, maintaining that all TNI were 'professional soldiers who obey the law'. Eva Kusuma Sundari has also learned that the FPI was registered by a decree of the Home Ministry in 2006, so it cannot be banned without an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Last Saturday 3 July some 100 jihadist recruits turned out for an inaugural military training exercise in an open field in Bekasi. The stated aim was to 'strike fear into the hearts of Christians'. 'If they refuse to stop what they are doing, we're ready to fight,' said Murhali Barda, the head of the local FPI chapter. One Bekasi mosque has erected an enormous banner that reads ' Death penalty for Andreas Dusly Sanau . . .' and pictures the local Protestant pastor with his head in a flaming noose.

The government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is reluctant to act against the Islamic fundamentalists because it is dependent upon the support of Islamic parties in the parliament. With the Islamic parties holding the balance of power, nobody, especially the ruling party, can afford to be deemed 'un-Islamic'.

Many analysts are warning that the situation threatens to deteriorate into religious war similar to that which convulsed Indonesia between January 1999 and February 2002. It must be noted though that those conflicts in Central Sulawesi and Maluku occurred on Indonesia's periphery where the Muslim-Christian demographic is around 50-50. If conflict erupts in Bekasi, which is 98 percent Muslim and only 15km east of Jakarta in densely populated West Java, then it will be a totally different proposition.


* use these tense, dark times to awaken Indonesia's majority nominal Muslims to the inherently intolerant, dictatorial and repressive nature of Islam, exposing it as man-made, self-interested and false; may the darkness only serve to make the gospel truth shine more brightly and warmly.

* watch over and shelter his faithful servants and bring the schemes of the wicked to ruin. (Psalm 146:9)

* give the Indonesian government the moral courage it needs to uphold the rule of law in Indonesia, for the sake of the nation and the persecuted Church.

' . . . I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.' (Matthew 16:18 ESV)



Bekasi is only 15 km from Jakarta in densely populated West Java and is 98 percent Muslim. On Sunday 27 June Islamic fundamentalists in Bekasi called for the city administration to enact Sharia law and for every mosque to form its own paramilitary in preparation for war against Christians. Last Saturday 3 July some 100 jihadist recruits did military training in an open field in Bekasi with the aim of 'striking fear into the hearts of Christians'. One mosque displays an enormous banner picturing a local Protestant pastor with his head in a flaming noose. The government is reluctant to act against the Islamic fundamentalists because it depends on the support of Islamic parties in the parliament. The situation is extremely serious for the Church in Indonesia. Please pray.