Indonesia is often held up as a model of democracy and moderation in Islam. The Christians there know otherwise. Islamic Tolerance Alert from modern, moderate Indonesia: "West Java: denial of religious freedom pushes Christians before the human rights commission," by Mathias Hariyadi for AsiaNews, January 12 (thanks to C. Cantoni):
Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Hundreds of members of the Huria Batak Protestant Christians Group (HKBP) of Bekasi, West Java, streamed before the National Human Right Commission (Komnas Ham) to demand that their right to religious freedom be upheld. They complain that Muslim hard-line groups and their local authorities have forcibly stopped their activities and cancelled their Sunday services.
At the end of the meeting between the Komnas Ham and the HBKP, an umbrella organisation for a number of Protestant groups in Indonesia, Rev Palti Panjaitan said he was hopeful that "our requests will be heeded," and that "local authorities would rescind their decision to suspend our activities."
"The decision by Bekasi officials is against the law" and violates fundamental human rights, including freedom of religion. More importantly, it "is contrary to the constitution," Rev Panjaitan insisted.
Worshippers at the HKBP church in Pondok Timur Indah, Mustika Jaya sub-district in East Bekasi, were notified of the decision last Sunday during the liturgical service. The letter ordering them to stop was issued on 31 December, and informed them that they had to suspend services as of 1 January 2010.
The clergyman said he was bitter about the decision because "more than 1,500 people have no place to worship anymore."...