By BosNewsLife Correspondents Stefan J. Bos and Joseph C. DeCaro
JAKARTA, INDONESIA (BosNewsLife)– Indonesia will put on trial over a dozen Islamic hard-liners who were allegedly involved in a September attack on two leaders of the Batak Christian Protestant Church just outside Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, BosNewsLife monitored Friday, November 19.
Prosecutors said assailants stabbed Asia Sihombing in the stomach and pounded Reverend Luspida Simandjuntak in her head with a wooden plank as they headed to morning prayers in September.
“I was trying to help get him onto a motorcycle so we could get him to a hospital,” Simandjuntak told reporters in the industrial city of Bekasi, 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of Jakarta. (Pictured: Indonesian Christians at prayer rally. Via CBN).
Neither of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening at the time. Investigators said suspicion immediately fell on Islamic hard-liners who have repeatedly warned members of the Batak Christian Protestant Church against worshiping on a field housing their now-shuttered church.
In recent months, they have thrown shoes and water bottles at the church members, interrupted sermons with chants of “Infidels!” and “Leave Now!” and dumped piles of feces on the land, Christians said.
The prosecutors’ office said everything was “in complete order” to start a trial against 13 detained suspects, including a suspended leader of the Islamic Defenders Front in Bekasi group, Murhali Barda.
Police were criticized for failing to arrest more members of the group, which locals believe was responsible for the September attack as well as for threats against the congregation in a campaign of intimidation that began in January.
News of the trial comes shortly after over 50 people from Islamic groups reportedly demonstrated against a church in West Java province on November 7, chanting for it to stop worshiping during its Sunday service. The protest happened while the King of Glory church of the Christian Congregation of Indonesia denomination was worshiping in a multi-purpose building in Karasak village in Astanaanyar district of Bandung City, media said.
The crowd claimed the building was not approved for worship purposes. Christians say however that church permit applications are often stalled in Indonesian government offices, opening the way for Muslim groups to accuse them of worshiping without official permission.
Indonesia, a secular country of 237 million people, has more Muslims than any other in the world. An extremist fringe among Islamic groups has become more vocal in recent years, according to church observers and the United States.
Speaking earlier this month in Indonesia, US President Barack Obama appealed for more Muslim-Christian tolerance.
He recalled that he had been a foreign child brought up in their midst, and said it was important to eradicate the mistrust that had built up over the years between Muslims and Christians.