Muslims protest against Christian Church in Indonesia
Despite the Indonesian Christian Elim Church (GEKI) having been granted permission to use a room for worship at the Plaza Suzuya Marelan, members of the Muslim Alliance (AUI) demanded that Christians are barred from the shopping centre.
Around 100 Muslims gathered at the local shopping mall and insisted that Christians are banned from the premises. The protests started in May, however, when the property administrator did not respond to the Muslim Alliance’s request, the demonstrators returned in June, urging the mall to revoke the permission to hold Christian worships there.
As a result of the repercussions, the church cannot hold its worship services in the mall.
Mayor Bobby Nasution said he had been surprised by the backlash of protesters. The mall had rented rooms for various activities contrary to the Islamic culture in the past. The only time Muslims protested was when Christians wanted to worship in the shopping centre.
According to the mayor, his local government has granted the GEKI church permission to worship in three different locations. “I also invite the GEKI congregation to worship in my office. Let us pray that a group of intolerant people does not tarnish the attitude of tolerance shown by the government.”
There are 34.2 million Christians in Indonesia, which makes up around 12% of the country’s population. The country has adopted a more conservative Islamic approach, which pressurizes Christians. Christian converts may face disapproval, intense pressure to return to Islam, verbal abuse and possibly social isolation. In some cases, families will withdraw all support, and married women will keep their new faith secret to avoid psychological abuse, including death threats, for practising Christianity. In some provinces like Aceh, women are required to wear Islamic dress. Christian women who do not comply will be bullied, interrogated and labelled as ‘immoral women’.