Islamist Persecution of Non-Muslims . . .
Since Ayaan Hirsi Ali's February report in Newsweek about Islamism's global war on Christians, I've noticed that this issue is getting more press. Just two days ago, I read in the International Herald Tribune of "Indonesia's Rising Religious Intolerance," an op-ed piece by Benedict Rogers (May 21, 2012) that can be found online at the New York Times site. The article is about broader Islamist mistreatment of minorities, but it cites persecution of Christians as part of this larger pattern, a problem that Mr. Rogers describes from his recent visit to Indonesia:
[On] Sunday, I joined a small church in Bekasi, a suburb of Jakarta, for a service, but found the street blocked by a noisy, angry mob and a few police.Those of us who are keeping track of radical Islam's fortunes in various parts of the world have long noticed and commented upon this pattern of Islamist intimidation of religious minorities, especially with respect to Christians, for the Islamists seem to have particular animus against Christianity, perhaps because the West is the old enemy that resisted successfully for so long and even turned back the spread of Islam into Europe during Medieval and Early Modern times, a humiliation exacerbated by the West's colonization of Muslim countries in the later Modern period.
The church, known as HKBP Filadelfia, was forced to close a few years ago, even though the local courts had given permission to open. The local mayor, under pressure from Islamists, has declared a "zero church" policy in his area. For the past two months, the congregation has been blocked from worshiping in the street outside their building, and the atmosphere has grown increasingly tense.
When I was there, I felt it could have erupted into violence at any moment. The radicals in control of the loudspeaker shouted "Christians, get out," and "anyone not wearing a jilbab (headscarf), catch them, hunt them down" . . . . Another church, GKI Yasmin in Bogor, an hour from Jakarta, has approval from the Supreme Court to open, but the local mayor, again under pressure from Islamists, refuses to allow it. A district mayor is in defiance of the Supreme Court, and no one says a word . . . . In Aceh, 17 churches were forced to close.
I met other church pastors who talked about their churches being closed, and a woman, the Rev. Luspida, who was beaten while one of her congregation was knifed. "We have no religious freedom here anymore," she told me. "We need to give a message to the president. He cannot say the situation is good here. We need to remind him our situation is very critical, and he should do something for the future of Indonesia. Support from outside is very important to pressure the president."
Postcolonial guilt has perhaps previously blunted Western criticism of radical Islam, but a new generation has grown up without a sense of that guilt, and people are talking . . .