Christians in Bekasi, as in other parts of Indonesia, have been unable to secure a place of worship due to a permit system in the country that stacks the deck against non-Muslims. Lacking a building, they went to worship in a field, and that site has been attacked as well, with jihadists even punching female members of the congregation. It has been soiled with human feces, and worshipers there have been constantly harassed with shouts of “Infidel,” and told they deserve to be stabbed to death. On this past Sunday, one worshiper was stabbed in the stomach, and the pastor was beaten over the head with a wooden plank.
It is clear the Muslims in the area (are any at all speaking out in defense of non-Muslims’ free exercise of their religion?) do not want to see Indonesian Christians gathering to worship anytime, or anywhere, and accept bloodshed as a cost of doing business.
Meanwhile, President Yudhoyono makes the whole affair sound like a suburban homeowners association dispute, and steers conspicuously clear of assigning culpability to anyone at all. As head of state, if he cannot or will not speak frankly, he is a liar, or he is not truly in control of his office and his country, or both.
Lastly, just a few days ago, Yudhoyono called on Barack Obama to stop the Qur’an burning in Florida just a few days ago. That was urgent. But as for people being beaten savagely and denied freedom of worship in Indonesia? Not so much, apparently.
“Indonesia: President breaks silence over church attacks,” from Adnkronos International, September 14:
Jakarta, 15 Sept. (AKI/Jakarta Post) – Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono broke his silence on Tuesday and spoke out against Sunday’s violent attacks against two Huria Kristen Batak Protestan (HKBP) church figures in Bekasi, West Java.
And a frenzy of minced words ensued:
The president said he was concerned with the violent acts, which fell upon Hasian Sihombing and Rev. Luspida Simanjuntak.
He should be outraged. It is telling that he isn’t. In another report, he does call for the arrest of the perpetrators, but without saying who they are, showing he has his blinders firmly on as to the nature of the broader problem.
“Why am I being unhappy? Because (it took place) when we strive to continuously maintain harmony and good relations among religious followers and when we try to prevent any violent acts in the community,” Yudhoyono said after receiving coordinating minister for politics, legal and security affairs Djoko Suyanto, national police chief Gen. Bambang Hendarso Danuri and secretary general of religious affairs Ministry Bahrul Hayat.
At the press meeting the president explained about the real problem in connection with the attacks as reported by Djoko and Bambang Hendarso.
“In broad outline, as reported to me this morning, there was a problem with the place of worship for the HKBP church followers. For the house which has been used as a place of worship for the last 19 years, local residents have given a kind of tolerance even though they think the housing complex is not the place of worship,” Yudhoyono said as quoted by kompas.com.
But where is the congregation supposed to go? Of course, in a perfect Sharia-run world, they’d just go away.
Note also the use of passive voice, and uselessly vague talk of “steps being taken”:
“For 19 years there have not been any problems. But when the number of the church followers is growing with more intense ritual activities, the residents think it would be better to search for other places to do so. Up to this point, actually there wasn’t any problem. A thorough solution was sought,” the president said.
“The solution, however, was not easy to get so that the local administration took a number of steps to settle the problem, even though no appropriate solution was taken. At the central government’s level, there has actually held [sic] integrated meetings in search for the above-mentioned solution,” he said.
“When the solution had not been reached, [there] was a tension. HKBP church followers in the area preferred to do religious rituals in a certain place. [A field! -ed.] This also sparked tension. It ended with the Sunday’s violent incident,” the President said.
Translation: after they were chased out of their building by Muslims, they were pursued even in a field, and viciously attacked.
The president further said that he already asked Bekasi city administration, Bekasi regent, Communion of Churches in Indonesia and religious figures to jointly take further steps.