Indonesia (MNN) ― The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights recently raised concerns over the plight of religious minorities in Indonesia.
Many are Christians who have been noting the rise of violent attacks and forced displacement. This, in addition to other forms of discrimination, such as being denied identification cards. Sources from Open Doors and the Voice of the Martyrs say there have been reports of forced church closures, even where the churches have secured legal permission.
International Christian Concern reported Jakarta police finally taking security measures to protect Christians as they gathered to celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. More than 12,000 police were deployed to roughly 2,000 churches throughout Central Java.
Muslim extremist groups in Indonesia, with suspected ties to al Qaeda, continue to grow more violent towards Christians, with little resistance from authorities.
Voice of the Martyrs noted one incident with a girl named Ribur who was jailed for 60 days for talking about her faith in Jesus. According to the VOM report, she chose to be part of an agricultural mission project in Aceh on the island of Sumatra. Teaching about how to raise crops and livestock often gave the team opportunities to answer questions about their faith.
ICC says Ribur eventually began a community Bible study. She and another teammate had developed a relationship with a local woman, who eventually gave her life to Christ. That’s where Ribur ran into trouble.
Shortly after this, a mob attacked Ribur and the other Christian worker. The beating continued for 45 minutes, eventually ending when the police came and arrested the pair for blaspheming Islam. When officials asked her why she shared about Jesus, Ribur said, "Jesus wants everyone to know about Him."
Eventually, the pair was released. However, Franz Magnis-Suseno of the Driyarkara School of Philosophy says, "The religious situation in Indonesia is marked by a rising number of social conflicts between neighborhoods and villages; conflicts on ethnic and, increasingly, on religious lines."
The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) cited the lack of religious freedom in Indonesia as among the issues that marred the country's human rights record.
Ignorance by the government has obviously encouraged increasing violence against minority groups in other areas, too, all across the country, which could potentially be misused by political interests approaching the 2014 legislative and presidential elections, said Kontras.
Pray for Christians like Ribur who are facing persecution for their faith. Ask God to give those who face persecution the strength to stand strong and testify the truth.