News / Asia

    Indonesia's Christian Worshippers Pack Easter Services Despite Bomb Threat

    Christian worshippers fill St. Theresia Church for Easter Sunday services, Central Jakarta, Indonesia, April 24, 2011
    Christian worshippers fill St. Theresia Church for Easter Sunday services, Central Jakarta, Indonesia, April 24, 2011

    Christian worshipers packed Easter services in Jakarta on Sunday, despite a bomb scare at a church days earlier that put police on the highest alert and added to concerns that minority religions are being targeted by increasingly active Islamic hardliners.

    Hundreds of people stand together singing at Gereja St. Theresia, while children play with colorful plastic eggs and mothers cradle infants. The celebration here was one of many across Jakarta, where churches overflowed with worshipers undeterred by security threats after police defused several massive bombs on Thursday at a church on the outskirts of the capital.

    To safeguard Easter celebrations, police deployed around 20,000 officers to Christian worship sites, and many churches set up security checks at their entrances.

    Michael Kawulusan, who attends services at St. Theresia every Sunday, says the increased police presence was reassuring.

    "We come to the church for praying so we’re hoping nothing will happen," said Kawulusan. "Of course we are worried, but with these policemen over here guarding the church, I think it should be fine."

    Anti-terror police foiled a plot to bomb the church on Good Friday thanks to information obtained after the arrest of 20 people suspected of sending parcel bombs to several prominent figures in Jakarta last month.

    The discovery of those devices followed a suicide bombing at a mosque inside a police compound on April 15 that injured around 30 people.

    Indonesia is a politically secular country with the world’s largest Muslim population. But increasing attacks against Christians and minority Islamic sects considered deviant have raised concerns of rising intolerance.

    Security officials say the string of recent incidents also illustrates the changing face of extremism in Indonesia.  Islamic terrorist groups have previously focused attacks on Westerners in large hotels and embassies.

    An International Crisis Group report published last week noted that recent events highlight a shifting trend toward small groups of militants acting independently of large jihadi organizations to attack Indonesians rather than foreigners.

    The potential threat has not deterred Anastasia Veronica, who says she has been worshipping at St. Theresia since she was a child, and plans to continue attending with her husband and six-month-old daughter.

    "If there was a bomb that exploded here," she said. "We’ve already received guidance by coming to celebrate this day, so I’m not scared."

    Across town at the historic Cathedral Church, sounds of hallelujah mix with the Islamic call to prayer. A spokesman for the church estimates the crowd at more than 2,500, still far less than the 4,000 people who took part in Good Friday’s services.

    Lucia Darpeni says she is not letting the pre-Easter bomb stop her from worshiping as usual.

    "We come here to clean our hearts," she said. "So there is nothing to fear. Even a little fear cannot prevent us from our activities."

    Other worshipers agree, saying their faith will be enough to protect them.

    You May Like

    Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    Half-million motorcycles are expected to rumble Sunday afternoon from Pentagon to Vietnam War Memorial for rally in event group calls Ride for Freedom

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    Video Canine Reading Buddies Help Students With Literacy

    Idea behind reading program is that sharing book with nonjudgmental companion boosts students' confidence and helps instill love of reading

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora