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Indonesian Churches Wary of Islamist Offer of ‘Protection’

Compass Direct News (CDN) is reporting that, in the wake of several attacks on worship services by Indonesia’s notorious Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), several Jakarta area church leaders have rejected the FPI’s offer to help “protect” them over Christmas.

“FPI leader Rizieq Shihab made the offer last week, saying he was working in cooperation with the Indonesian Communion of Churches and the Indonesian Bishops Conference,” said the CDN story. “But several churches publicly rejected the offer, with online forums comparing FPI church protection to ‘foxes protecting a chicken coop.’”

Jakarta’s police chief on Friday (Dec. 18) reportedly promised protection for every “registered” church in the area. Many Indonesian churches are unregistered, however, since they fail to meet the strict conditions of a Joint Ministerial Decree governing places of worship.

CND went on to say that the Indonesian public has harshly criticized FPI members for their role in multiple church attacks over the past year and faulted police and politicians for failing to intervene.

The most recent attack occurred last Sunday (Dec. 19), when more than 100 Islamists gathered outside the sealed home of the Rev. Badia Hutagalung of Huria Kristan Batak Protestan church in Rancaekek to disrupt worship services, sources said.

Another attack on Sept. 12 led to the arrest and detention of 13 FPI members, including Murhali Barda, leader of the FPI’s Bekasi branch.

“During the attack, assailants stabbed and critically wounded church elder Hasian Sihombing and beat the Rev. Luspida Simanjuntak over the head with a wooden beam,” concluded the CDN story.

Note: Indonesia, officially the Republic of Indonesia, is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania which comprises of 17,508 islands. With a population of around 238 million people, it is the world’s fourth most populous country, and has the world’s largest population of Muslims.

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