JAKARTA, June 5 (Compass Direct News) — Members of the Islamic Defenders” Front (FPI) in Tangerang, Banten province, confronted and threatened to kill church leader Bedali Hulu yesterday as he visited his elderly mother-in-law in a rented home formerly used as a meeting place for his congregation.
For the past 18 months Hulu’s Jakarta Baptist Christian Church (GKJB) in Pisangan village, Sepatan district has wrestled for the right to hold church services in the village. Members will soon take the matter to court in hopes of finding a permanent solution to the dispute.
Yesterday”s confrontation by the Muslim extremist FPI was the latest in a series of threats. Last week as the congregation held a simple meeting in a church member’s home — sharing a meal and singing a few hymns — FPI members arrived and repeated threats first issued in November to raid the homes of church members if meetings continued. […]
Until January 2007, the congregation met in Hulu’s rented home. Following threats however, they began alternating meetings in various members” homes.
Hulu established the church in June 2005 and held services in his home until December 2006 without objection from neighbors. He had obtained written permission from a local official to hold the services and the church was registered with Religious Affairs authorities.
When the church planned to hold a Christmas celebration in December 2006, however, FPI members began an extended intimidation campaign with the express goal of ending “illegal” Christian activity in the village.
Initially, the FPI sent a letter to the church warning it not to hold the Christmas program. Bedali immediately reported this to the police, who provided security during the celebration — but in subsequent disputes took the side of the FPI….