Monday, September 13, 2010

Muslims Stab Indonesian Pastor ~ Ramadan over the attacks begin

Members of the Filadelfia Huria Kristen Batak Protestan (HKBP) church congregation attend Sunday service on a road in front of the sealed premises of their unfinished church in Tambun, Bekasi regency in Indonesia's West Java province February 21, 2010. The Bekasi authorities sealed the church premises after local residents in the Muslim-majority area protested against its construction.

Members of the same Indonesian church, where the stabbing took place ~ back in February, are still holding their service outside due to its forcibly closure. One of 300 churches burnt to the ground or forcibly closed in Indonesia in recent years. Please, I might add that's 'moderate' Indonesia.

Washington, D.C. (September 13, 2010)–International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Muslim assailants ambushed and stabbed a pastor, and assaulted another pastor on Sunday in Bekasi, Indonesia.

At 8:40 AM, Christians from the Batak Christian Protestant Church (HKBP) were walking to an empty field to hold a worship service. While enroute, two assailants attacked Rev. Sihombing, and stabbed him multiple times. Another pastor from the church, Luspida Simandjuntak, was beaten on the head when she ran to stop them. Both were taken to an undisclosed hospital in Bekasi where Mr. Sihombing is now in the intensive care unit.

ICC sources provided information that Pastor Luspida recognized the attackers as being from the mob that had previously protested and beaten the worshipers last month. She had also received warning from the local police chief that violence was impending, but no police protection was provided.

Since June, the HKBP church has been forced to meet in an outdoor field; local government officials gave into pressure from hardline Muslim groups and closed the church building. On August 8, hundreds of rioters from the Islam Defender Front (FPI) broke through police lines defending the field and attacked church members, many of which were admitted to a local hospital afterwards.

The latest stabbing incident marks a disturbing trend of religious persecution in Bekasi. The August 8 incident has still not resulted in corrective police action. On June 20, the Pondok Timur Indah Church in Bekasi was shut down. Last June, fundamentalist Muslims called to form religious militia units to preparing local mosques for a war against “Christianization.” A Catholic school named St. Bellarminus was attacked in May by a group of Muslims for a blog entry that reportedly defamed Islam. In February the Bekasi Galilea Church was closed over allegations of converting Muslims.

ICC’s Regional Manager, Logan Maurer, stated, “We now see Muslim militia groups carrying out their threats to eliminate Christians by intimidation and violence. Despite a clear trend of escalating violence, the Bekasi government has not taken effective steps to protect Christians. It is urgent and imperative that the Indonesian government step in before the situation spirals further downward.”

Please contact the Indonesian embassy in your country and politely ask the Indonesian officials if they are aware of what is occurring in the Bekasi area and to protect religious freedom.

Indonesian embassy contact info: (US) 202.775.5200, (UK) 44.171.499.7661, (Canada) 613.724.1100

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