On May 19, there were reports of disruptions during Christian worship services in two cities on Sumatra Island, Indonesia.
Sources indicate that Muslim groups were involved in these incidents. In one instance, Christians were reportedly interrupted while worshiping at a café in a village near the capital of North Sumatra Province, Medan.
Similarly, in the capital of Pekanbaru Province, Riau, members of Bethel Indonesia Church faced disruptions during their worship service.
According to MetroLangkatBinjai.com, at least 40 Muslims led by Yudi Ardiansah and Uztad Alfan Daulay intervened in the midday worship service at a café where the Mawar Sharon congregation typically gathered in Setia village, Binjai. Yudi allegedly expressed opposition to the church’s presence and activities, claiming that the church had obtained false permits. Yudi is also the branch chairman of a political party preparing for the 2024 national elections.
“We call on law enforcement officials to investigate some state officials who are causing a commotion among the local people,” Yudi said, adding that holding Christian worship services in the predominantly Muslim area was provocative.
In Riau, a video appearing on social media shows “outsiders” keeping the Bethel Indonesia Church (Gereja Bethel Indonesia) church from worship. A narrator tells her audience that the “GBI Church in Jl. Rukun Jaya 3 No. 153” is prohibited from worshiping.
“We are not allowed to worship – we don’t know where these citizens come from,” she says. “Maybe they are outsiders.”
The Rev. Henrek Lokra, executive secretary of the justice and peace bureau of the Communion of Christian Churches (Persatuan Gereja Indonesia or PGI) told Morning Star News that PGI is investigating the cases.
“We have contacted the PGI regional leadership on this matter to know the problem more but give no comments on it,” Henrek said.
Andreas A. Yewangoe, former chairman of PGI, condemned the incidents.
“It’s absolutely regrettable that this [kind of] case is happening again,” Yewangoe told Morning Star News. “The attackers paid no heed to our president’s address that the constitution is higher than anything else, including ‘agreements’ among the relevant officials, which always put the weak minorities in a corner.”
Indonesian President Joko Widodo in a January address to regional leaders told them not to let local agreements supersede constitutional guarantees of religious freedom.
“The constitution must not be forfeited because of agreements,” Widodo said at the Regional Head National Coordination Meeting in Sentul, West Java on Jan. 17. “Our constitution guarantees freedom of religion and worship. Even if it’s only one, two, three cities or regencies, be watchful for such cases.”…continue reading
Source: Morning Star News