“Apparently [Christians] want to test our patience. We are planning to invite them for a dialogue to determine what they really want. If talks fail, this might mean war,” stated Murhali Barda, General Secretary of the Bekasi chapter of the Islamic Defender’s Front (FPI) to The Jakarta Globe. Murhali went on to claim that Christians are actively baptizing Muslim converts and “are on to something.”
The head of the Bekasi Islamic Congress, Saleh Mangara Sitompul, issued a number of recommendations to the Bekasi government in line with Sharia law and recommended that every mosque in Bekasi form its own paramilitary unit. “We hope that the recommendations to the government could be a guide for them so that there will be no religious defamation or inter-religious conflicts,” stated Saleh.
One FPI leader, Abdul Qadir Aka, said the paramilitary units were necessary: “When the need arises we will have units that can be mobilized…We have hundreds and even thousands of mosques in Bekasi. Imagine what we can do together.”
These statements are the latest in rising tensions in the Bekasi area. On June 20, the Pondok Timur Indah Church in Bekasi was shut down “because the congregation held prayers in a place where they were not supposed to.” Last May, a Catholic school named St. Bellarminus was attacked by a group of Muslims for a blog entry that reportedly defamed Islam. In February the Bekasi Galilea Church was closed over allegations of converting Muslims.
ICC’s Regional Manager, Logan Maurer, stated, “These recent events in Bekasi, Indonesia, expose a very frightening trend where radical Muslims are willing to go to any length to silence Christians. The fact that they are threatening to use paramilitary action and that they are also taking concrete steps toward forming militias shows the degree to which Christians, and ultimately religious freedom, is in danger.”
Please contact the Indonesian embassy in your country and politely ask the Indonesian officials if they are aware of what is occurring in the Bekasi area and to protect religious freedom.
Indonesian embassy contact info: