News / Africa

Indonesian President Orders Police to Arrest Those Who Attacked Christian Group

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (File)
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (File)

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has ordered police to hunt down and arrest assailants who attacked Christians heading to a religious service. Some advocates for pluralism here say the president has until now done little to prevent religious intolerance at home, although he urged President Obama to prevent a Christian group from burning Qurans in America.

For months relations between members of the Batak Christian Protestant Church and Islamic fundamentalist groups in the Jakarta suburb of Bekasi have been tense. Although the local government denied them permission to build a church on an empty lot they own, church leaders have held religious services on the property.

Some Muslim groups have responded with weekly demonstrations intended to disrupt the services.

Bekasi police chief Imam Sugianto says 500 hundred officers have been assigned to prevent violence at the services. However, on Sunday assailants on motorbikes attacked a procession of Christians on the way to worship.

Sugianto says suddenly the assailants cut into the procession and they blocked the way. Then they started stabbing one person and hitting the pastor.

Sugianto says police quickly came to the aid of the two victims, and that neither sustained life-threatening injuries. While the assailants got away, he said, they have been identified and he expects they will be apprehended soon.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called on authorities to investigate and to hold accountable those responsible. The president, who relies heavily on Islamic parties for political support, had been criticized in the media for failing to crack down on Muslim hard-liners in the past.

However, he publicly urged President Obama to prevent a Christian group from burning Qurans in America. In the end, the pastor who threatened to burn the Qurans canceled the event.

Damien Dematra, with the group Pluralism Care Movement, says the assailants might have been fundamentalist Muslims motivated in part by anger over the Quran burning controversy.

"This never happened before. I mean, there have been some demonstrations before in Bekasi, but there has never been any stabbing or similar to that, right? This is for the first time," Dematra says, "so I suspect that some interest is trying to play in this situation. They try to take advantage."

Indonesia is a secular country of 237 million people and has more Muslims than any other in the world. Though it has a history of religious tolerance, an extremist Muslim fringe has become more vocal in recent years. And by law religious practices can be restricted. For instance, Christians can not build a church if anyone in the district objects, and some Muslim groups have made a point of blocking new churches.

Dematra says while the president has been slow to speak out on the complicated issues that divide the Christians and Muslims in Bekasi, he has taken a strong stand against the use of violence to solve political problems.

Mr. Yudhoyono has in the past few months spoken in general terms about the need for tolerance. Until Sunday's attack, he had indicated he considered the religious protests in Bekasi to be a local matter left to officials in the community.

You May Like

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs