(AsiaNews) - A mob of Muslim extremists attacked a Christian prayer house in
Aceh Province. The building was damaged and worshippers were forced to stop the
service. Local witnesses, who asked their names be withheld, said that the attack
occurred last Sunday, during worship. The place itself belongs to the Indonesian Bethel Church.
The fundamentalist attack was apparently caused by a
lack of building permit (Izin Mendirikan Bangunan in Indonesian), a claim
Christians deny. More disheartening for the members of the congregation is the
fact that the attack occurred under the eyes of the police, which did not lift
a finger, except to place seals on the building after the incident.
The Indonesian Bethel Church where the attack
took place is located in Peunayong, capital of the province of Banda
struck during Sunday prayer. Hundreds of attackers hurled stones and pebbles
against the building, causing major damages to the structures.
confirmed that the police stood idly by as the incident unfolded, whilst
worshippers had to evacuate the building, seeking refuge in a safer location.
activists and associations slammed the extremist raid, noting that it occurred
in a place that had been characterised by relative calm and a "pluralistic environment".
Indonesia's westernmost province, is also the only part of the archipelago
where Sharia is enforced. Provincial authorities use a morality police, a
special street-level law enforcement unit, to crack down on people who violate
the local moral code.
Irwandy Yusuf, a former rebel fighter, there was some degree of interreligious peace
and harmony between the Muslim majorities and non-Muslim "foreigners". However,
things have recently changed. As fundamentalists gained more power and freedom
to act, religious minorities have come
April's elections, long-time exiled (in Sweden) former separatist leader Zaini
Abdullah easily won on a platform centred on fighting corruption and
enforcing Islamic law.
of growing interreligious tensions multiply, local Christian communities have seen
attacks and acts of violence, included the forced
closure of their places of worship, increase.
has a history of moralisation campaigns in the name of Sharia and Muslim
customs, which are particular rigid in Aceh. The
most recent case involved a ban on miniskirts, a moralisation campaign
led by ulemas
against yoga and tobacco, and police
action against people wearing jeans and tight skirts.