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More Sharia in Bande Aceh, Christians Concerned

9/22/09 Indonesia (MissionNetworkNews) Christians are concerned about a new law that could usher in harsh Islamic law in Banda Aceh, Indonesia.

According to reports, lawmakers in the region voted unanimously that adulterers can be sentenced to death by stoning, just months after voters overwhelmingly chose to throw conservative Islamic parties out of power. Moderates are set to take control of the government, but hard-liners pushed through legislation.

Paul Estabrooks with Open Doors says, “This seems to be a last ditch effort on their part to try and bring in the sharia law implications for their region. The moderates, by the way, sat through their parliament and allowed it to actually come to legislation, which is actually quite surprising.”

While Christians shouldn’t be affected by the laws against adultery and homosexuality, they are concerned that other harsh Islamic laws will be enforced, especially for Muslims who give their hearts to Christ. “When people leave Islam, they become those worthy of death,” says Estabrooks. “Sharia actually prescribes death for them. If you accept one area of sharia law, then there’s no reason for them to accept another.”

Estabrooks says while the area is predominately Muslim, “Since the tsunami, the church in Banda Aceh has grown significantly, especially because of the care and love that was shown to the community by the Christians after the devastation of the tsunami.”

According to Estabrooks, there is some good news. “Fortunately at the moment there hasn’t seemed to be any outbreak against them as there has been in other areas of the Muslim world. These are the steps that we’ve seen in other places that lead toward disrespect for minorities like Christian communities.”

Many times, this gives Muslims license to harm Christians when any allegations arise.

“We’re deeply concerned about this situation for them, and we ask people to remember to pray for them,” says Estabrooks.