02/08/2010, 00.00
INDONESIA
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Bekasi, anti-Christian persecution continues. A Protestant church targeted

by Mathias Hariyadi
A crowd of 200 Muslims launches intimidating messages at the faithful and prohibits the use of a local church for Sunday services. The attackers claim to be residents of the area. Protestant pastor denies this: “definitely strangers". From 2009 to now at least 17 Christian churches targeted.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - "It will no longer be possible to use this church for the weekend functions." This is the threatening message launched by a crowd of 200 angry Muslims, who last week attacked a domestic church in Pondok Indah Timur, in Bekasi regency, some 30 km east of the capital Jakarta.

Local witnesses tell AsiaNews that the attackers gathered around the place of worship from the early hours of Sunday morning. According to a woman, Muslims disguised as "locals" expressed their firm opposition to the "construction plan" of a standing church in Pondok Indah Timur.  

Reverend Luspida Simanjutak denies the claims of the fundamentalist group, stressing that they are “definitely strangers” because "I do not know any of their names." The desire to erect a Christian place of worship, he said, goes back 19 years, the issue is not simple, because "they have always opposed the birth" of a church in the area. "The worst incident – he recalls - happened in 2004: we had just finished building a church. The next day we found it completely destroyed. "  

The protestant pastor explains that "the building will be erected within our property," but authorities have not yet released - despite repeated requests - the building permit (IMB), which is essential for building any structure in the country. He adds that "200 signatures of people support the building of a church have been collected."  

Theopilus Bela, executive secretary of the Indonesian Committee of Religions for Peace, recalls that from 2009 until today have at least 17 churches been brutally targeted - for various reasons - by Muslim fundamentalists or local authorities. On 21 July 2009, the authorities in Bogor - for reasons that have never been clarified - levelled the Protestant Church of Parung Panjan. Since 2008 the Catholic Church of St. John the Baptist in Parung, also in Bogor regency, has been the victim of provocative actions and attacks by Islamic extremists. In 2008, the faithful of the area were unable to attend the Christmas mass.

On 17 December 2009 it was the turn of the Catholic Church of St. Albert, stormed by a crowd of at least 1,000 Muslim extremists. Then there is the church set on fire near Tlogorejo, in the sub-district of Temanggung. 23 January 2010 anther 1000 Muslims attacked and set fire to the Protestant Church in Sibuhuan in the province of North Sumatra. The same day Padanglawas Pentecostal Church was also set on fire.

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Bekasi: Islamic groups against the Protestant church, it promotes proselytizing
17/02/2010
West Java, Islamic extremists block construction of St. Clare Parish
11/08/2015
North Sumatra, two Protestant churches burnt: "too many faithful and too many prayers"
23/01/2010
Bogor: Islamic extremists stronger than the Supreme Court, Protestant church closed
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Christians in Bekasi forced to celebrate in the open air under police protection
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