Rampage by militant groups in in Bandung & Tasikmalaya, while a senior Democrat Party figure calls for their banning.
On the morning of 12th December about 250 men from militant groups Front Pembela Islam (FPI), Forum Umat Islam (FUI), and Gerakan Reformasi Islam (Garis) raided seven houses believed to be being used as informal or illegal churches in the Rancaekek area of Bandung, West Java.
One house church, belonging to the often besieged Batak Protestant church (Gereja Huria Kristen Batak Protestan (HKBP)) Bethania was afterwards 'sealed' by public order officials, to prevent its further use as a church. Church authorities later admitted they did not have proper permits for the building. kompas
Christian congregations in West Java and other Muslim majority areas of the country often find it difficult to obtain legal permission to build a church, and instead make use of 'temporary' premises like houses.
Meanwhile on 9th December elsewhere in West Java, in Tasikmalaya, a religious school belonging to the Ahmadiyah sect was also 'sealed' by police and local authorities, who had information that, again, the Front Pembela Islam (FPI) was planning an assault on the premises. The authorities claimed that the forced closing was done to prevent any violence.
Speaking of the incident in Tasikmalaya a spokesman for the Demokrat Party, Ulil Abshar Abdalla, complained that the reasoning of the authorities made no sense:
They are criminalizing the victims, they're letting violence take place.
Ulil questioned whether the FPI should be banned:
We all have to ask whether an organisation that consistently uses violence can be allowed to continue and cause disharmony in society.
Ulil Abshar Abdalla is the chairman of the Demokrat Party's policy development division, was once a senior figure in the Liberal Islam Network/Jaringan Islam Liberal (JIL), and is a scholar of Islam. jawapos