|Persecution Type:||Islamic Oppression|
|Persecution Level:||Very High|
Attacks against three churches in Surabaya in May almost doubled Indonesia’s violence score for 2018. In Indonesia, conservative Muslim political parties and radical Islamic groups exert significant influence, resulting in Sharia-inspired policies and public opinion that opposes Christianity.
While the government tightens the country’s blasphemy laws, most problems for believers come from confrontations with radical Islamic groups. Some Islamic religious leaders instigate Christian persecution and hatred against Christians (and other religious minorities) through their teaching in mosques, but this occurs in the mass media and by politicians as well.
Many converts from Islam experience persecution from their Indonesian families. However, the intensity of the persecution varies and is mostly in the form of isolation and verbal abuse. Only a small percentage of converts face physical violence for their Christian faith. The level of persecution also varies by region. Places like West Java or Aceh–where radical Islamic groups are strong and exert heavy influence on society and politics–are hot spots for more intense persecution toward Christians.
In addition, once a church is seen to be proselytizing, as many evangelical and Pentecostal churches do, they soon run into problems with radical Islamic groups. Typically, non-traditional church groups also experience difficulties securing permissions to build churches. Even if they manage to fulfill all legal requirements—including winning court cases—local authorities still ignore them. There have been reports of Catholic churches having difficulties obtaining building permission as well. Over all, the situation for Christians has continued to deteriorate in recent years.
On May 13, 2018, three churches in Surabaya, the capital of East Java, were attacked by suicide bombers, killing 11 Christians and wounding scores more. What shocked the nation was that the attacks were carried out in a highly coordinated way by a whole family, including two girls aged 9 and 12 years old. These attacks were the country’s largest since the Bali bombings in 2005 and the biggest on Christians since 2000.
In addition, there have been several reports from different parts of the country where converts to Christianity have been detained by their families. Most are isolated for several weeks and can be expelled from the family home once it’s clear their conversion is serious. Children of Christians often face ostracism and verbal abuse. In some regions, Muslim families regularly forbid their children to play with Christian friends. They are called infidels and are sometimes mocked by Islamic religious teachers and made to sit in the back row of the school classroom.
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