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06/11/2011 Indonesia (WorthyNews) – An international Christian rights group has expressed “grave concerns” about increased violence against Christians and other religious minorities in Indonesia and urged the government to tackle Islamic extremism.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said Wednesday, June 8, that it visited survivors of clashes that killed several people, and spoke with officials of churches in cities Bekasi and Bandung, which “were forced to close”.

CSW stressed several pastors complained that they “faced increasing harassment, threats and attacks.” Pastor Palti Panjetan of the HKBP Filadelfia church in Bekasi said despite winning a court ruling granting permission to use their building, the local mayor has forbidden the congregation to use the church.

It was not immediately possible to verify the claim with local authorities, but Worthy News has monitored several similar incidents in the region where Islamic militants have influence.

“Even though the court said we can use the church, we are not able to. So we continue to worship outside, on the road,” Panjetan said in a statement released by CSW.  He said some parents even “baptized their children in the road.” He also said his church has “communion in the road” but added that this “is not safe and not suitable.”

“Radicals”, he claimed, want to “push” his church “to the limit, to see how long we are prepared to worship outside before we surrender.” However, “It might be a long time,” Panjetan warned.


Local Muslims who have supported the church have also faced intimidation from “radical Islamists” and militants, according to CSW investigators and local Christians.

Moderate Muslims, including the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, have been targeted, CSW said, referring to a February 6 incident when three people were killed and many others injured in the Cikeusik area of Banten province.

CSW told Worthy News that some 1,500 attacked 21 members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, citing four survivors of the attack who the group met in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital.

One survivor, who was not identified for apparent security reasons, was quoted as saying that  the attackers mistreated him. “When the attackers caught me, they stripped me naked on the road, dragged me through a river, beat me with sticks and machetes and tried to cut off my penis,” the man reportedly said.

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