Bekasi, insults and threats from Islamic extremists at a Protestant prayer meeting
Jakarta (AsiaNews) - A group of 500 Islamic extremists blocked Christians from the Huria Protestant Church (Hkbp) in a field where the Sunday service was taking place. The incident occurred last July 18 in the city of Pondok Timur in Mustika Jaya subdistrict, district of Bekasi (West Java).
Muslims blocked all routes to prevent Christians leaving the field and began to insult them, terrorizing them. The group of Protestant believers pray outdoors because their hall for religious functions was closed on the grounds that it was illegal.
The situation improved when a representative of the Bekasi Office for Religious Affairs, along with 200 policemen, arrived at the site. Luspida Simanjutak, head pastor at the Hkbp church, told AsiaNews: " We were forced to sign a pact with them, forcing us to stop our faith celebration but we strongly rejected the proposal. We asked the representative to help our congregation to leave the site without harm. Their goal is one and one alone, to eradicate all churches from Mustika Jaya”.
It is not the first time that the Hkbp church was targeted by Islamic extremists. "At Pondok Timur - continued the pastor - the Muslims have forced local government to outlaw the place where we held our services. They've already done so twice”.
That's why different Hkbp communities decided to hold their services in an open field. Theopilus Bella an activist for interfaith dialogue, believes the incident last Sunday was premeditated. "Many of the faithful – he tells AsiaNews - received text messages from Islamic extremists which warned them of what they would do” and what in fact happened.
Despite threats by Islamic Rev. Simanjutak says that her community will continue to recite the Mass in the same place.
For years the Christians of Bekasi have been targeted by Islamic fundamentalists. Early in 2010, radical groups blocked religious services, prevented Christians from access to existing churches and stopped the construction of new churches. Since 2009, more than 17 churches have been affected by Islamic extremists. The Hkbp church, besides having to close its premises many times because deemed "illegal" in 2010, suffered the destruction of a church in 2004, after receiving permission to construct it.