ICC Note: Indonesia has been a hot bed recently regarding religious persecution. Within the nation who boasts the largest Muslim population, the Christian minority faces strong persecution on the legal and personal level. Local churches face destruction by radical Muslim mobs which in turn result in the displacement of thousands of Christians living in the area. Many would believe the government would make the effort to intervene and protect the right to religious freedom however, the Indonesian government turns a blind eye to acts of violence against religious minorities, occasionally taking part in the actions as well.
11/11/2015 Indonesia (Gatestone Institute) – In compliance with Islamic demands, Indonesian authorities in the Aceh region have started to tear down Christian churches. Their move comes after Muslim mobs rampaged and attacked churches. At least one person was killed; thousands of Christians were displaced.
On Friday, October 9, after being fired up during mosque sermons, hundreds of Muslims marched to the local authority’s office and demanded that all unregistered churches in Aceh be closed. Imams issued text messages spurring Muslims from other areas to rise up against churches and call for their demolition.
On Monday, October 12, authorities facilitated a meeting with Islamic leaders and agreed to demolish 10 unregistered churches over the course of two weeks.
Apparently this was not fast enough to meet Muslim demands for immediate action. On the following day, a mob of approximately 700 Muslims, some armed with axes and machetes, torched a local church, even though it was not on the list of churches agreed upon for demolition.
Approximately 8,000 Christians were displaced; many fled to bordering provinces. Their fears were justified: Islamic leaders continued issuing messages and text messages saying, “We will not stop hunting Christians and burning churches. Christians are Allah’s enemies!”The Muslim mob then moved on to a second church, an act that led to violent clashes. One person, believed to be a Christian, died after being shot in the head. Several were injured, as Christians tried to defend their church against the armed mob.
Instead of punishing those who incited violence and took the law into their own hands by torching and attacking churches, local authorities demolished three churches (a Catholic mission station and two Protestant churches) on October 19. In the coming days, seven more churches are set to be demolished; in the coming months and years, dozens more.
Authorities had originally requested of church leaders to demolish their own churches. “How can we do that?” asked Paima Berutu, one of the church leaders: “It is impossible [for us to take it down] … Some of us watched [the demolition] from afar, man and women. It was painful.”