The Straits Times
Published on Dec 22, 2012

Indonesian minority Christians brace for Christmas torment


BEKASI, Indonesia (AFP) - A Christian community in Indonesia, the world's biggest Muslim-majority nation, is preparing to spend Christmas mass on the street as sectarian attacks keep them locked out of their church.

The Filadelfia Batak Christian Protestant Church has since 2009 held Sunday services under the blaring sun as Muslim hardliners and community members physically block them from their property.

The weekly intimidation in Bekasi, on the capital's outskirts, has often erupted in violence. In May, a mob of around 300 people hurled bags of urine, rotten eggs and stones at worshippers marking the ascension of Christ.

Such cases of religious intolerance are on the rise in Indonesia, according to Jakarta-based civil rights group Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, which recently released a study recording 308 incidents in the first half of this year against religious minorities.