Several churches in Indonesia are facing continued threats or attacks from mobs, forcing some to close, local sources report.
In the most recent report of violence, a mob attacked the Christ Assembly Church's Ministry Post in Bekasi City, West Java on the evening of August 29. According to VOM sources in Indonesia, the gate of the church, windows and tiles were destroyed. Twenty people have since been arrested, including a prominent leader in the community.
Earlier, that week, on August 23, a mob forced three churches to close in Bogor City claiming that the churches did not have permission to operate. And in Rancaekek Subdistrict, Bandung City, church leaders were gathered together on August 19 and informed that houses used for church meetings must close, effective September 6.
Home to the largest Muslim population in the world (about 185 million), Indonesia is known to be a religious nation without a state religion as a result of efforts to gain a compromise between proponents of an Islamic state and more secular Muslims.
Militant Islamic militia groups, such as the Laskar Jihad, have orchestrated an Islamic jihad against Christians in some areas of Indonesia, killing thousands of people and destroying hundreds of churches and homes, often supported by government troops. This is particularly true in areas where Christians are the majority, such as Central Sulawesi and the Maluku Islands, where unfortunately some of the young people in the predominantly Christian areas retaliated against Muslim villages. In 2002, a peace treaty was signed between the Christians and the Muslims and, for the most part, the treaty has held, despite some incidences of violence. In October 2002 the Laskar Jihad announced that they were disbanding and many of its members left the Maluku area. However, it is believed that they group merely went underground and may be responsible for the attacks that have threatened the peace accord since.