12/02/2013, 00.00
INDONESIA - ISLAM

North Sumatra: Hundreds of Islamists attack Protestant community during prayer service

Mathias Hariyadi
A group of FPI members stopped the Sunday services of the Hkbp in Binjai . Fundamentalists threaten Christians, who are forced to leave under police escort. Attack sparked by false accusations of promoting religious activities in a building without permission. A case pending for more than five years.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - A group of extremists belonging to the Islamic Defenders Front attacked and disrupted the Sunday services of the Tandemn Huria Kristen Batak Protestant ( Hkbp ) community in the city of Binjai , the Indonesian province of North Sumatra . hundreds of faithful of the local Christian community had to abandon their church - official and recognized - and close traditional weekend services early because of the threats made by the fundamentalists. The faithful returned to their homes, escorted by police in riot gear.

Eyewitnesses reported that the assault yesterday morning against the Protestant Christian community was led by hundreds of FPI members, supported by some local Islamist groups . The assailants shouted loudly that the "church" is not legal , the authorities in the area, according to the extremists , have not take any decision on the legitimacy of any " activities of worship " in the building .

The Islamists attack comes in conjunction with the decision by local authorities, who must determine whether the place of Christian worship is or is not valid. The case is still pending and the surprise extremist attack could be aimed at putting pressure on judge.

Nasir Ahmad , FPI coordinator, said that the interruption of the Hkbp function had the "support " of the political authorities, as previously insured during a special meeting on 27 November 2013. During the meeting they discussed the issue with the leaders of Binjai . The Islamists claim that the "church" is not legal , because the case " is still pending in court " and has not received the approval of the local population . Zainnudin Purba, an MP for Binjai , points the finger at the local administration which has been unable to make a decision on the matter for more than five years.

Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation in the world (86 % profess Islam) and, while maintaining the constitutional principle of basic personal freedoms (including religious) , it is increasingly becoming a theater of violence and abuse against minorities . Christians make up 5.7% of the population; Catholics just over 3 %, 1.8 % are Hindu and 3.4% of other religions. The province of Aceh applies Islamic law and many other areas are becoming more radical and extreme the application of the Muslim religion in the lives of citizens.

In this context, the FPI has played a leading role in a broad campaign of 'Islamisation'. In a number of places, its members have used violence to impose Sharia-inspired rules and regulations, such as a ban on alcoholic beverages and the prohibition of certain sexual mores. The group, which is opposed by most Indonesians, has also been accused of blocking church construction, using violence to achieve this goal. Since 2000, it has also been blamed in connection with a series of terror attacks that targeted the US Embassy as well as bars, nightclubs, and private clubs, especially during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting and prayer.

 

 

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