09/09/2013, 00.00
INDONESIA
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West Aceh , Protestant pastor and four Christians arrested for proselytizing

by Mathias Hariyadi
The religious police arrest five for trying to convert Muslims in the area. In fact, they ensured education and remedial courses . Not even the head of the Office of Religious Affairs is sure of the charges. Islamic law in force in the province and in the past Protestant Christians have been imprisoned for similar cases.

Jakarta (AsiaNews ) - TheSharia  " Police " and security officials in the district of West Aceh , the Indonesian province where Islamic law is in force , arrested Pastor Hendri Budi Kusumo and four other people , members of the Indonesian Mission Evangelist Church ( GMII ) . The incident occurred last week, but only emerged in the past hours. According to reports the religious police - in charge of enforcing Islamic rules and customs - accused the five of "proselytism" , because they were trying to " convert Muslims to Christianity in the area of Aceh. "

Confirmation of the arrest comes from the Aceh 's office of the Committee for Religious Affairs . The local chief officer, Baron Ferryson , said that " they were arrested a few days ago and charged with trying to influence " the local population. They were taken by force from their homes, the man added, after rumors spread of "proselytism." In fact, the Christian pastor was providing educational and remedial courses to the population in order to improve the level of education. And not even the head of the Committee for Religious Affairs claims to be "sure" of the allegations.

According to local media reports , Hendri Budi Kusumo and the other four men were taken from their home in the village of Blang Pulo , in the middle of the night . With them two other people were detained and later identified as "Muslims from the Aceh area " , because they were in the company of Christians. Some witnesses add that "there may be other cases of conversion to Protestantism".

A similar story occurred in June, when a Protestant pastor and three other workers were arrested in the district of Bireuen , again in Aceh , for proselytizing . A story emerged because an alleged convert identified as Hasbi (a "newly baptized " in the local language , ed) returned to his village of origin, and attempted to bring Christianity to his brother Aman Suhardi . The authorities singled out Pastor Onekesyi Zega and arrested him while he was at the village of Bener Meriah , in the company of three assistants and carrying "evidence", which were copies of the Bible in the local language.

Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation in the world and, while guaranteeing the constitutional principles of religious freedom, it is more and more often the scene of attacks and violence against minorities, whether they are Christians, Ahmadi Muslims or of other faiths. In the province of Aceh - the only one in the Archipelago - the Islamic law (sharia) applies and in many other areas the influence of the Muslim religion in the lives of citizens is becoming more radical and extreme. In addition, certain rules such as the building permit - the infamous IMB - are exploited to prevent the building or close Christian places of worship, as is the case for some time in Bogor regency, West Java, for the faithful of the Yasmin Church .

 

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