Bekasi Christians not intimidated by pressures from Islamic extremists
For months, hundreds of radical Muslims have threatened Christians and interrupted the functions of the Batak Protestant Church (HKBP). Rev Luspida Simanjutak, the community’s pastor, tells AsiaNews that she is not afraid of the extremists, and that she will continue to defend freedom of religion.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – The Batak Protestant Church (Huria Kristen Batak Protestan or HKBP) in Bekasi (West Java) has not bowed to pressures from Islamic extremists; instead, it continues to hold fast to the principle of freedom of religion as guaranteed by the Indonesian constitution.

In the past two months, the intolerance of Muslim radicals towards the HKBP community has intensified. On three different occasions, hundreds of Muslims from the Islamic Defender Front (FPI) and the Islamic Community Forum (FUI) invaded the football field that Christians have used for their liturgical functions after Muslim extremists successfully pressured police to shut down their church, twice.

Last Monday, Rev Luspida Simanjutak (pictured), the pastor at the HKBP community, organised a religious function as a form of protest in front of the State Palace Complex, which includes the residence of the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

After the success of the demonstration, which drew thousands of people, the clergywoman spoke to AsiaNews yesterday, saying the pressures extremists were putting on her and her Church did not scare her.

“All Indonesian people, no matter what their religious belief, fully understand that it is our fundamental right as Indonesian citizens to perform our faith anywhere in the country,” she said.

The HKBP community has been the target of Muslim extremists for years. In 2004, they tore down one of the community’s places of worship. In other instances, they stopped Christians from entering private homes where religious functions were underway, claiming they were “illegal”. (MH)

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