A mob of Islamic hard-liners threw stones and bags of urine at the HKBP Filadelphia congreagation of the Batak Christian Protestant Church in Bekasi, on the outskirts of Jakarta, at an Ascension Day service on Thursday. Police tried to stop the mob of some 300 people, but were also attacked, according to reports.
“They assaulted the congregation members,” Rev. Palti Panjaitan told the Jakarta Globe on Thursday. “Police tried to talk to them, but the mob passed through police and showered us with urine and dirty water. Others threw stones at us.”
The mob reportedly attacked the congregation as the service started, and also shouted profanity and threats.
“Even after the service, which lasted one-and-a-half hours, the mob chased after us,” Rev. Palti said. “Thank God the police escorted us to a safe area.
HKBP Filadelphia submitted an application for a building permit in 2007, but church leaders say that despite meeting all the requirements, including the agreement of their neighbors, a permit was never issued.
On Dec. 31, 2009, the Bekasi district head issued a letter banning the members of the congregation from worshiping on the land, forcing the 560 members to hold services along the side of the road fronting the property.
In July 2011, the Supreme Court overruled the Bekasi administration’s decision, saying the church was eligible for a building permit. The court ordered Bekasi to issue one — but the district government ignored the ruling.
Members of the congregation say that Islamic hard-liners have been intimidating and threatening them at their services since January.