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    » 09/15/2010, 00.00

    INDONESIA

    Muslim leader detained in anti-Christian attack

    Mathias Hariyadi

    Police announce that Muharli Barda, notorious head of the Islamic Defender Front in Bekasi, is a suspect in the case. Nine other people are involved, but their names have not yet been made public as the authorities continue to investigate the stabbing of a Christian clergyman.
    Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Indonesian police confirmed that Muharli Barda, the notorious leader of the Islamic Defender Front (FPI) in Bekasi, has been detained for his role in an anti-Christian incident that occurred on 12 September. Police also said that nine other people were involved, but did not disclose their names.

    The incident in question occurred last Sunday when a Protestant clergyman, Rev Afian Sihombing, was attacked. He is the head of a Christian community in East Pondonk Bekasi Regency. He is currently in hospital with multiple stab wounds to the stomach. Rev Luspida Simanjutak was also injured during the attack, with wounds to the face, head and back. She and Rev Sihombing lead the Huria Batak Kristen Protestan (HBKP).

    After initially taking a guarded position, police became more involved following a statement by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who said that Christians should have justice.

    “There are ten suspects,” Police Chief General Bambang Hendarso Danuri announced. He declined however to give any further comments.

    “Let’s not talk about which mass organisation they belong to. As long as they commit a crime, we will handle them seriously. Law enforcement should be practiced without any preference,” he said.

    Bekasi FPI leader Mhuharli Barda, who has often been blamed for disorders, was mentioned by Jakarta police spokesman Senior Superintendent Boy Rafli Amar.

    “Yes! It definitively correct that Muharli Barda has been declared as a suspect for his role in provoking ill feelings against others,” Amar said in response to a question. “Barda is now in police custody,” he added.

    A top FPI national leader Munarman slammed the anti-Christian attack and said that the group would punish any FPI member found guilty.

    “We shall evaluate if Muharli Barda was involved or not. If he acted on his own, he would be expelled; if he acted as local FPI chief, the section would be shut down and reorganised at the right moment,” he said.

    Yet, just a few days before the incident Munarman had defended the accused.

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    See also

    14/09/2010 INDONESIA
    Muslim organisations condemn attack against Protestant clergyman
    President Yudhoyono joins (late) his voice to those who condemned Sunday’s stabbing of Protestant pastor Afian Sihombing. Muslim organisations call for the arrest of fundamentalists who stain the soul of the nation.

    17/09/2010 INDONESIA
    Jakarta to review laws on religious freedom to guarantee Christian rights
    The authorities announce changes to a joint ministerial decree ((nº8 of 2006 and nº9 of 2009) after minorities engage in protest following the latest violent episodes against the Christian community. West Java governor pledges a “permanent” place of worship for the HKBP Church and its members.

    13/09/2010 INDONESIA
    Protestant pastor stabbed, religious freedom attacked
    A group of unknown assailants stabbed Rev Afian Sihombing. Currently, he is in hospital in critical conditions. Rev Luspida Simanjutak, head of a Protestant community in Pondonk Bekasi, was also injured. Activists and priests react to the incident saying such actions are an attack against pluralism, a pillar of Indonesian society.

    19/08/2010 INDONESIA
    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.

    04/06/2008 INDONESIA
    More than 50 Islamic Defender Front extremists arrested
    The police is questioning detainees over last 1 June clashes during a pro-religious freedom rally. FPI leader is among those arrested. In East Java young moderate Muslims burn radical group’s flags.



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