Giving hope to persecuted Christians since 1995
Select Page

ICC Note: This article highlights a very alarming trend in religious rights violations in Indonesia, the majority of which are directed against Christians. Contrary to popular opinion many attacks against Christians and other religious minorities are being led or perpetrated by ordinary Muslim citizen’s, not just extremist groups like the Islamic Defenders Front. This may indicate that radical tendencies have spread from smaller groups into the general population of the world’s fourth largest nation. 
01/04/2013 Indonesia (MSN) – Concerns are growing over at least 50 cases of religious freedom violations against Christians in Indonesia last year, as not only extremists but ordinary Muslims were responsible for many of the acts of intolerance and violence, according to a recent study.
“Cases of intolerance against Christians remained high in the country” in 2012, Bonar Tigor Naipospos, deputy chairman of the Jakarta-based group Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, told Morning Star News.
Christians were targeted in at least 50 of 264 cases of religious freedom violations in 2012, more than any other group, Naipospos added. Setara recorded 54 such cases against Christians in 2011, following the especially volatile year of 2010, when there were 75 cases against Christians.
Setara’s Report on Freedom of Religion and Belief in 2012 notes that the 264 cases of religious freedom violations overall last year include 371 “acts” against religious minorities, as one case often involves more than one attack or action.
The Setara report came days before more than 200 local Muslims threw rotten eggs at Christians going to a worship service in Bekasi on Christmas Eve. A photographer from Agence France-Presse witnessed furious men and headscarf-clad women blocking the road and launching the eggs at members of the Filadelfia Batak Christian Protestant Church (locally known as the HKBP) on the outskirts of Jakarta.
The attack was the latest in a series of clashes between members of the HKBP and Muslim residents who oppose the existence of the church. The Bekasi administration closed the church’s building in 2009, and it remains sealed in defiance of a Supreme Court order in favor of the church.
“During the attack, Tambun Police Chief Comdr. Andri Ananta and North Tambun District head Suhartono did nothing,” the Rev. Palti Panjaitan, pastor of the church, complained at a press conference in Jakarta on Dec. 26.

A sign of growing intolerance could be seen days before Christmas when the Indonesia Ulema Council (the MUI, a confederation that represents all Muslim groups to the government) issued a fatwa forbidding all Muslims from extending Christmas greetings to Christians and asking President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to skip Christmas celebrations.

While Indonesia’s Muslim-majority population of 232.5 million is believed to be largely tolerant, a trend is emerging of ordinary local Muslims leading violent attacks, not just outside extremist groups, the report found.
Many violent attacks were carried out with impunity by local Sunni Muslims, indicating that “the virus of intolerance” has trickled down from extremists to ordinary residents, Naipospos said. On top of the list of non-state actors were “citizens,” responsible for 76 cases of religious freedom violations – as opposed to the extremist group Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), which was behind 24 cases, and the MUI, which was responsible for 25 cases, according to the report.

[Full Story]