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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid