Indonesia: Another fine example of religious tolerance

Indonesian Christians have their mouths taped as Indonesian national Red-White flags are waved at half-mast during a protest against rising violence by Islamic hard-liners in Jakarta, Indonesia, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2010. Several hundred people from the Forum for Religious Freedom Solidarity held a rally, protesting what they said was the government's inaction in dealing with the hard-liners. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

“Religious minorities in Indonesia push back

For months, Christians in the industrial city of Bekasi have been warned against worshiping on a field that houses their shuttered church. They’ve arrived to find human feces dumped on the land and sermons have been interrupted by demonstrators chanting “Infidels!” and “Leave now!”

But last week, tensions finally exploded.

Twenty worshippers were met by 300 Islamic hard-liners, many of whom hurled shoes and water bottles before pushing past a row of riot police. The mob chased down and punched several members of the group.

“The Batak Christians deserve to be stabbed to death,” yelled Murhali Barda, who heads the FPI chapter in Bekasi. “If they refuse to go home we are ready to fight.”

An argument broke out between Barda and three female members of the congregation. The hard-liners shoved and started punching them. All the while, men chanted from a truck and clerics made speeches saying “Leave. … We will not let you perform prayers here!”

Hard-liners have also become more violent, according to the Setara Institute for Peace and Democracy, a human rights group, which said there have already been 28 attacks on religious freedom in 2010, including everything from preventing groups from performing prayers to burning houses of worship.”

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