Last weekend, on Sunday 11th February members a Catholic church in Yogyakarta, Indonesia were attacked during their Sunday service by a man wielding a sword.
The attacker entered St. Lidwina church during mass and ran towards the choir. He attacked Pastor Karl Edmund Prier, who was leading the service. Pastor Karl suffered injuries as did two church members and a police officer who wrestled the sword from the attacker to prevent further harm.
The government and religious leaders have called on all Indonesians to stay calm and not be provoked by the incident. President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo has stressed the importance of upholding religious freedom, “Our Constitution guarantees religious freedom. Therefore, we will not give even the slightest amount of room to those who promote and spread intolerance in our country. Especially those who act with violence,” he said, at the Foreign Ministry in Jakarta on Monday.
President Joko Widodo also instructed the authorities to investigate the case thoroughly. “I have ordered the authorities to take firm actions. The state will consequently uphold the Constitution.”
The perpetrator was identified as a graduate of an Islamic boarding school in East Java and known by the villagers as a good Quran reader. He had attempted to travel to Syria and had showed signs of being radicalized. Police are currently investigating whether the attacker acted alone or with the help of a larger network.
Many are concerned for the safety of churches and believers in Indonesia as local elections are scheduled for June. Election years are extremely prone to religious conflict which political actors will manipulate to gain votes.
Indonesia is ranked at number 38 on the 2018 Open Doors World Watch List. Islamic pressure groups and conservative Muslim political parties are pushing for an Islamic nation, posing significant danger to Christians and other religious minorities. On a more local level, radical Islamic leaders are able to mobilise hundreds of thousands of demonstrators on the streets in mass protests against Christians. Churches who are seen to be converting Muslims face opposition from extremist Islamic groups. Many converts from Islam experience isolation and verbal abuse because of their faith.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.