09/12/2023 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – Members of the Indonesian Bethel Church (GBI) Solagracia in West Sumatra faced intimidation, threats, and disruption by community members while holding a prayer service in a rented house on Tuesday, August 29.
Juni, a day laborer and a church member, had been leasing the property since early July. He generously offered the congregation the space for occasional worship and had secured permission from the homeowner for this purpose.
Approximately 15 church members gathered for the Tuesday afternoon service. As they engaged in prayer and song, a woman residing nearby, accompanied by her husband and two younger siblings, approached the house. The situation quickly took an alarming turn as they began to shout and forcefully pound on the door. Eventually, the situation escalated, leading to the attackers breaking a window in the home, forcing the church members to flee.
Juni reported the incident to the Padang Police the following morning, seeking a criminal investigation. However, the police only questioned the perpetrator before releasing them, attributing the actions to a mental disorder.
Angelica, a companion from the Interfaith Youth (Pelita) Padang, argued that the claim of a mental disorder should have been substantiated by a diagnosis from a psychologist or psychiatrist.
Halili Hasan, the Executive Director of the Setara Institute, criticized the authorities’ response, contending that it had “disregarded” justice for the victims, whose freedom of worship had been violated.
This incident further compounds the city of Padang’s poor track record of intolerance, as highlighted in the Setara Institute’s 2022 report, which ranks Padang as the third most intolerant city in Indonesia.
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