Hard-Line Muslims Confront Indonesia's Christians
In the city of Bekasi, Indonesia, outside Jakarta, a handful of Christians head to Sunday worship. But before they can reach their destination, they are stopped and surrounded by a large crowd of local Muslims who jeer at them and demand that they leave.
This is the Filadelfia congregation, a Lutheran group. They are ethnic Bataks from the neighboring island of Sumatra who have migrated to Bekasi, and they have been blocked from holding services on several occasions. Recently, a journalist who demonstrated in support of the congregation was beaten by an angry mob.
Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim majority nation and has drawn praise for its evolution into a vibrant democracy. It's a country of more than 17,000 islands, with more than 300 ethnic groups who speak about 740 languages. But recent cases of persecution of religious minorities have led some to question whether Indonesia is still living up to its reputation for pluralism and tolerance.
The persecuted include atheists as well as minority Muslim sects, such as the Shia and Ahmadiyya. Hundreds of churches have been closed in recent years, including, most recently, 17 house churches this month in Aceh, the only province in Indonesia where Shariah, or Islamic law, is in effect.
Riot Police Intervene
Back in Bekasi, the standoff is getting tense. Truckloads of riot police arrived on the scene beforehand, but do nothing to separate the Christians and Muslims. Congregation leader Rev. Palti Panjaitan negotiates with security forces to let them pass. (...)