Easter Threats Against Christians in Indonesia Reported
Jemaah Islamia (JI), a terrorist group blamed for a number of bombings in Indonesia in recent years and committed to creating a single Islamic state in the country, has reportedly issued a series of threats against Christians as Easter draws near.
3/19/08 Indonesia (CNS) Easter will be “a time of great anxiety” for Christians in Indonesia, where radical Islamist have reportedly threatened to attack Christian targets.
“Jemaah Islamiah is dedicated to creating a single Islamic state throughout Southeast Asia under shari’a law,” the organization said in a dispatch on Tuesday. “It considers non-Muslims as legitimate targets and is active throughout the region.”
Threats linked to important Christian observances are not unusual in Indonesia. In 2000, 19 people were killed in a series of coordinated Christmas Eve church bombings blamed on JI, a group with suspected links to al-Qaeda.
In 2005, three Christian schoolgirls in Sulawesi were beheaded by killers — some linked by police to JI — who left one of the severed heads in a bag at the door of a nearby church, with a note threatening to kill 100 more young Christians.
Elsewhere in the archipelago, Islamist attacks, threats or pressure on local authorities have forced the closure of scores of churches in recent years.
Given the security force crackdown after the bombings, many JI members had argued that attacks on Western venues were counterproductive – although not necessarily morally wrong – and “have advocated a return to the sectarian bloodletting that they engaged in” in Maluku and Central Sulawesi.
With setbacks like the arrest of top leaders and seizure of explosives during raids of JI safe houses last year, “a return to sectarian violence makes sense,” said Abuza, professor of political science at Simmons College in Boston.
“They create a pool of young indoctrinated recruits, who have fought in defense of their religion, and reinforces their Manichean world view,” he said. “Moreover Western governments put less pressure on the Indonesian government to react [than in the case of high-profile attacks against foreigners].”