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    » 07/03/2010, 00.00

    INDONESIA

    Radical Muslims threaten to kill Christian man in Bekasi



    A banner depicting a Christian with a noose around his neck is hung outside a mosque with these words: “This man deserves the death penalty!” Andreas Sanau, together with Henry Sutanto, is accused of organising mass baptisms. “The government must protect all citizens from anarchist action as mandated by the constitution,” says secretary of the Communion of Indonesian Churches.
    Jakarta (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Christians continue to endure persecution in the city of Bekasi, 25 kilometres from Jakarta. Today a banner was hung in front of a mosque with a picture of a Christian man with a noose around his neck and the words: “This man deserves the death penalty!”

    The man is Andreas Sanau, 29, accused along with Henry Sutanto by the Islamic Defender Front (FPI) of organising mass baptisms. The FPI is a radical Islamic group known for his violence against religious minorities, especially Christians.

    For years, Islamic extremists have targeted Bekasi Christians, accusing the latter of trying to “Christianise” the city. In the first months of 2010, radical Islamic groups have interrupted Christian religious services, prevented Christians from entering their churches and blocked the building of new churches.

    Charges against Sanau and Sutanto are the result of an initiative by the Mahanaim Foundation, a Christian organisation that helps the poor. Last Wednesday, 14 buses full of people met at the residence of the foundation’s president, Henry Sutanto. For Murhali Barda, the local FPI leader, Sutanto “must be killed; he wants a mass baptism.”

    Foundation spokeswoman Marya Irawan said that the busloads of people were villagers who had come as part of an outreach programme in favour of the poor. The Foundation has no intention of baptising anyone.

    Meanwhile things are getting worse, especially after the local FPI decided to set up a paramilitary organisation ahead of an expected struggle with Christians. More than 1,500 volunteers are training.

    According to Murhali Barda, “we are doing this because we want to strike fear in the hearts of Christians who behave in such a way. If they refuse to stop what they’re doing, we’re ready to fight.”

    Fr Andreas Yewangoe, secretary of the Communion of Indonesian Churches, said that the militia will only create fear, nervousness and unrest in the nation. “The government must protect all citizens from anarchist action as mandated by the constitution.” So far,the government has done nothing.

    Political analyst Arbi Sanit said that the authorities are afraid of taking step that might be interpreted as anti-Islam. For them, “Being popular is more important [. . .] than punishing those who are clearly breaking the law,” Sanit said.

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    See also

    21/03/2013 INDONESIA
    West Java: Christians in the streets to stop church demolition, charges against clergyman
    About a hundred members of a Bekasi church are demonstrating in favour of religious freedom. Local authorities plan to demolish their place of worship in a few hours time. After the community's pastor files a case against a Muslim leader who proffered death threats against him, he finds himself charged with defamation and could go to jail.

    22/10/2010 INDONESIA
    Islamic fundamentalists against church named after Mother Teresa
    Plans to build a Catholic place of worship in Cikarang, some 60 kilometres east of Jakarta, is generating opposition among Muslim groups. At least six churches were attacked since last year. Several Protestant clergymen were also assaulted. The authorities have been criticised for failing to stem the wave of intolerance.

    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.

    11/02/2011 INDONESIA
    Yudhoyono orders crackdown but officials drag their feet
    Police arrest 13 people in connection with recent attacks against the Ahmadi minority and Christian churches. The president issues orders to local authorities to go after extremist entities. Civil society groups share the president’s views but security officials and agents drag their feet. Anti-Christian and anti-Ahmadi violence are related.

    15/09/2010 INDONESIA
    Muslim leader detained in anti-Christian attack
    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.



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