Christian Persecution in Indonesia Escalates in Street Attacks

Christian persecution in Indonesia has seemingly dropped to new depths this month, as it has been reported that a number of Christians who had previously been forced to worship outside after being evicted from their churches by Islamic militants, have been attacked while worshipping on the streets, report Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

|TOP|Five weeks ago, three churches in the Bekasi area of West Java were closed down by the Mayor of East Bekasi and all congregants weve banned from worshipping in their church buildings and their homes.

300 militants have reportedly conducted their own worship service on 16th October to prevent Christians from holding their service. However, churchgoers from the Lutheran, Presbyterian and Pentecostal churches moved to another street to avoid confrontation in their determination to hold their own service.

The militants were angered by this move and followed the congregation, attacking them verbally and physically. The congregation faced insults and endured swear words spoken by the militants. The Reverend Anna, pastor of the Presbyterian church and chairman of the church’s Synod, was pushed into a drain.

Reports say nearby police just watched the scene, and some even joined in with the mob. Despite the persecution, Christians stayed strong and continued the service until the end.

Christian lawyers met with church leaders later on that day to decide on ways to respond to the situation.

Over 30 churches are estimated to have been closed down in West Java since September 2004.

There are fears that violence will continue if the church continues to meet in the streets.

This incident is an example of what is becoming a national campaign to shut down all Christian churches in Indonesia. West Java has been struck most but there have been indications that churches in East Java and even Jakarta are under threat.

Tina Lambert, CSW's Advocacy Director, said: "CSW is very concerned by the intimidation experienced by these churches and also by the closure of so many churches in West Java in recent months.

"The government has yet to respond to these violent attacks and church closures with appropriate and constructive measures. Despite constitutional guarantees of religious freedom, Christians and other minority faith groups have faced harassment from local officials in West Java. CSW calls on the Indonesian government to take immediate measures to bring those responsible for violence to justice and to ensure that freedom of religion is upheld in Indonesia."