Indonesia: Christians Pressurised from West to East

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Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | No. 457 | Wed 05 Dec 2007

Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation. Whilst
Indonesian Muslims have traditionally been nominal, cultural,
progressive Muslims, Islamic fundamentalism is growing, sponsored
over recent decades by foreign states and pan-Islamic
organisations. From west to east, Christians are coming under
increased pressure.

* ACEH: After a long separatist war for independence, Islamic and
nationalist separatist guerrillas in the Sumatran province of Aceh
won autonomy for Aceh along with the right to implement Sharia law,
although most Acehnese did not want it. Now tourism officials in
Aceh are proposing to open up Aceh for Sharia tourism. Tourism
official Cipta Hunai has announced: 'We invite international
tourists to visit Aceh to observe how an Islamic community lives
and how the Islamic code of Sharia is applied.' Hunai maintains
that Sharia produces a peaceful and secure community and that
tourists will not be put off by the public canings which he
explains are 'carried out to correct Muslims who have made

Life is especially hard for Christians. Churches have been razed
and pastors attacked. Muslim fundamentalists are working hard to
advance their Islamist agenda and frustrate struggling modernist

* JAVA: In July 2005 Indonesia's leading clerics complained that
Christianity was making 'worrying inroads' and that Christian
preachers were converting Muslims at 'an alarming rate', while the
'phenomenon' of church construction was 'most disturbing'. In West
Java, Muslim fundamentalists have been combating this by escalating
and intensifying their intimidation and persecution of pastors,
evangelists and churches. Groups aligned to the Anti-Apostasy
Alliance have forced numerous churches to close. Compass Direct
reports that on 21 November militants belonging to the Islamic
Defender Forces (FPI) attacked and wreaked havoc at the Tangerang
home of the Reverend Bedali Hulu, pastor of Jakarta Christian
Baptist Church. Local authorities dealt with the criminal violence
by asking Rev Hulu to leave the region for a while.

On Friday 23 November Muslim protesters shouting 'Allahu Akbar'
(god is great) marched from the Al Maulana mosque to the registered
4000-member Damai Kristus (Christ's Peace) Catholic Church in
Kampung Duri. They wanted the church closed and the Christian
symbols removed. Church leaders refused. The Muslims subsequently
returned with a letter from the Tambora district head requiring the
church to halt its ministries.

* PAPUA: Javanese transmigration into the traditionally Christian
eastern regions produces religious tensions as Muslim migrants and
indigenous Christians compete for land, resources and control. The
situation is most severe in Papua (Irian Jaya), where the Muslim
Indo-Malay transmigrants are both religiously and racially distinct
from the predominantly Christian Melanesian Papuans who regard
their incorporation into Indonesia in 1963 as an act of gross
injustice. Though the Indonesian government keeps Papua closed, it
recently granted US Democrat Congressman Eni Faleomavaega
permission to visit Papua on 26 & 27 November while en route to
Bali. However, the Indonesian authorities did everything in their
power to ensure that the Congressman did not get to meet with or
speak to any Papuans. Systematic Islamisation and slow genocide are
in progress -- the genocide of a Christian people betrayed by the
West for the resources on and in their land.


* President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, that God will 'take hold of
his right hand' to subdue hostile, belligerent and anti-Christian
forces and strip Islamic fundamentalists of their appeal, as well
as open doors, break down barriers and cut through obstacles
(Isaiah 45:1-8) for the benefit of the Church and nation and for
the glory of God's name. Pray likewise for Irwandi Yusuf, the
elected, progressive governor of autonomous Aceh.

* God to give Christian leaders across Indonesia -- from Aceh
through Sumatra and Java, through Sulawesi, Maluku and the
eastern-most regions of Papua -- 'the Spirit of wisdom'
(Ephesians 1:17) in abundance in a delicate situation where
God's sheep need wise shepherds.

* God to bless all Christians in Indonesia, particularly those
presently experiencing intimidation and persecution, with a
profound, uplifting and inspiring awareness of God's eternal
presence and unfailing love. (Romans 8:38,39)

'In his [Jesus'] law, the islands will put their hope.' (Isaiah
42:4 NIV)

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The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this
RL Prayer List to help individuals and groups pray
specifically and regularly for religious liberty
issues, and in particular to uphold the Church
where it is suffering persecution.

RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner
of the WEA RLC and convenor of the Australian EA RLC.
Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.