Published: 16:55 GMT Standard Time - Tuesday 21 December 2010
Indonesian churches under attack
More than 100 Christians were forced to flee house church gatherings by a 200-strong mob of angry Muslim extremists in the latest assault on Indonesian churches.
The members of a church from a village outside Jakarta, Java, were holding services in their homes because the government has repeatedly refused their requests to approve a place of worship for them.
Islamic extremists surrounded two houses where the Christians were meeting on Sunday 12 December and drove them out; they also attacked five private homes and wrote a letter to the authorities demanding they act against the house churches.
Local police allowed the expulsion of the Christians to go ahead, saying they could not provide security protection because the place was not legally designated as a church. The police chief said: “They don’t have any permit to use the houses as places of worship. We can’t arrest (the Muslims) as they got a permit to hold the protest.”
|An Indonesian church|
The incident came days after a homemade bomb exploded at a church near Solo in central Java, and a letter bomb was found at a church in the same area on Sunday 5 December, shortly before the service began. On 1 December there was a foiled explosion of homemade grenades near another Christian place of worship, and in October a letter bomb was found in a church in Kartasura. Police said they were on alert for terrorist attacks against Christians over the Christmas period in light of these incidents, in which nobody was hurt.
Since 2009, at least seven churches and many church leaders have been attacked in Java.