Giving hope to persecuted Christians since 1995
Select Page

Christian theological institute besieged by militants

3/13/07 Indonesia (Christian Solidarity Worldwide) Arastamar Evangelical School of Theology (SETIA) was attacked by a group of militant Islamists in the evening on Thursday 8 March 2007. The following Saturday, over 200 militants besieged the school for three hours, shouting threats and demanding the closure of the school.

On Thursday evening some of the outlying ventilation buildings of the new dormitory were burned down and the attackers threatened to bring a crowd of 1000 militants to close the school down on Saturday, 11 March. The Islamist militant groups Front Pembela Islam (FPI) and FBR are believed to be behind the attack.

On Saturday the school was besieged by over 200 militants for three hours from 9.30 am. The crowd shouted threats and demanding the closure of the school. Indonesian police sent a detachment of reportedly some 400 police officers in order to prevent the mob from further attacking the school.

FPI claimed that the school is illegal despite the fact that SETIA has official permits both for the existing buildings and the new dormitory. FPI has a reputation for violent demonstrations and attacks but in the past they primarily targeted nightclubs and restaurants serving alcohol during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

SETIA’s vice-principal, Juwanto, stated: “This is now a common occurrence in Indonesia . SETIA has all the necessary permits but it does not matter. The demonstration is mainly by outsider’s not local community. But today the government showed that it cares about the situation. We do not know if this group will return. We need to pay attention to security and pray to the Lord.”

Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s Chief Executive, Mervyn Thomas, says: “This incident is deeply concerning as it took place in the capital rather than one of the regions which has experienced problems before. 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.”

Notes to Editors:

SETIA, which was established in 1987, is one of the biggest Evangelical theology schools in the country. It is located in East Jakarta within easy distance of the city centre and next to an air force compound. According to the vice principal the school has some 1500 students including regional branches. He stated that the school has a good relationship with the neighboring Muslim community and in fact during the Jakarta floods the school provided daily assistance to the community.

Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country with a predominantly moderate, tolerant history but in the last few years Islamist militant groups have gained popularity and considerable political power despite being numerically small.