Indonesia rioters storm churches

By February 10, 2011

Indonesia (MNN) — Indonesian police stood guard outside
churches on Wednesday after a wave of anti-Christian violence swept across the
Muslim country.

Todd Nettleton with Voice of the Martyrs explains, "This mob was
raised up by a guilty verdict in a case of blasphemy against a Christian man in
an Indonesian court."

The case took place in Central Java, where a Christian man
was accused of distributing materials and leaflets that allegedly blasphemed
Islam.

As judges decided the case, instigators outside began to
inflame anti-Christian fanaticism.
Nettleton explains that the extremists were dissatisfied with the
sentencing. Not long after the verdict,
around 1,000 protesters expressed their ire. "The man was found guilty. He was sentenced
to five years in prison. The mob was angry because they wanted him to get the
death sentence. In fact, they wanted the judge to immediately turn him to the
mob so that they could execute him."

The sentence was thought too lenient, and the mob rampaged
the courthouse, two police stations, and two churches. There were reports that the protests
quickly spread. "A couple of members of an Islamic sect
(another minority group) were executed by radical Muslims in Indonesia. The
reports are that the video shows police standing by and watching while this
execution took place."

Grisly video of the murders showed hardliners running amok. That's really what's causing the disconcerted
response. "For Christians, and for other religious minorities in Indonesia,
when they hear that police stood by while people were killed, it doesn't give
them a sense of confidence that the police will step forward and really provide
protection that Indonesia's constitution calls for."

Additionally, even as the government tries to restore order,
the details on the scope and damage of the riots are sketchy because the
situation hasn't been totally put down. Nettleton says, "There are reports that stones were thrown and windows
were broken; there are reports that they were burned. Hopefully, more information is coming that
will clarify that."

VOM was not directly affected, but there is a team
investigating. "We will have somebody who will go to the area and try to get
some additional details, try to see what the church there needs, how we can
provide assistance for them and help for them. But we're so early in this
situation, that I don't know exactly what steps will be taken as we move
forward."

Pray. Nettleton notes
the tension there, and it could have an impact on ministry. "It would be natural
for there to be a sense of fear, or a sense of foreboding that ‘if I follow
Christ, bad things are going to happen to me'. I think we need to pray against that spirit."

Intimidation is a big factor, too. Believers need boldness in their faith, but
what they've witnessed makes them nervous. "Pray directly for Muslims in Indonesia to come to know Christ in a
personal way. I think Christ has the ability to take hearts that are filled
with hatred and anger, and make them hearts that are peaceful, and hearts that
are filled with love."

Click here for more ways to pray.

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