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Policy Briefing

Asia Briefing N°114

Jakarta/Brussels, 24 November 2010

Indonesia: “Christianisation” and Intolerance 

The incidents in Bekasi exemplify some of the dynamics
I. OVERVIEW involved. Islamist organisations like the Indonesian Islamic
Propagation Council (Dewan Dakwah Islamiyah Indonesia,
Religious tolerance in Indonesia has come under increasing DDII) and Islamic Student Movement (Gerakan Pemuda
strain in recent years, particularly where hardline Islamists Islam, GPI) have long been active there, both with a
and Christian evangelicals compete for the same ground. strongly anti-Christian streak. Islamic Defenders Front
Islamists use “Christianisation” – a term that generally (Front Pembela Islam, FPI) has had a strong presence for
refers both to Christian efforts to convert Muslims and the last decade, and recent years have seen the formation
the alleged growing influence of Christianity in Muslim- of a variety of anti-apostasy coalitions. Bekasi also has a
majority Indonesia – as a justification for mass mobilisa- well-entrenched salafi jihadi community, and Jemaah
tion and vigilante attacks. The tensions brought about by Ansharut Tauhid (JAT), the organisation established by
these clashing fundamentalisms are nowhere clearer than the radical cleric Abu Bakar Ba’asyir in 2008, held its
in Bekasi, a suburb of Jakarta, where a series of disputes inaugural ceremony at the dormitory for Mecca-bound
since 2008 over church construction, alleged mass conver- pilgrims there.
sion efforts and affronts to Islam have led in some cases
to violence. The Indonesian government needs a strategy On the Christian side, several evangelical organisations
to address growing religious intolerance, because without committed to converting Muslims have also set up shop
one, mob rule prevails. Local officials address each inci- in Bekasi, some funded internationally, others purely home-
dent only when it gets out of hand and usually by capitu- grown. Yayasan Mahanaim, one of the wealthiest and
lating to whoever makes the most noise. Every time this most active, is particularly loathed by the Islamist commu-
happens, the victors are emboldened to raise the stakes nity because of its programs targeting the Muslim poor.
for the next confrontation. Another, Yayasan Bethmidrash Talmiddin, run by a Mus-
lim convert to Christianity, uses Arabic calligraphy on the
Christian-Muslim tensions have increased in Indonesia cover of its booklets, suggesting they are Islamic in con-
for several reasons: tent, and requires every student at its school as a gradua-
tion requirement to convert five people.
 Failure of the government to prevent or effectively
prosecute incitement and intimidation against religious While officials and legislators talk of the need for “reli-
minorities. gious harmony”, there is a sense that this can be legis-
lated or even imposed, rather than requiring sustained
 Growth of Islamic vigilante organisations and various time and effort to understand how tensions have grown
like-minded coalitions that have become a public order and developing programs designed to reduce them. Inter-
menace. faith dialogues are not the answer; with a few exceptions,
 Aggressive evangelical Christian proselytising in they are often little more than feel-good talk-fests that do
Muslim strongholds. not grapple with real problems.

 Effective devolution of power through decentralisation Among the many reasons for developing a strategy to curb
to local authorities, even on issues such as religious communal tensions, one deserves particular attention: the
affairs which are supposed to be the preserve of the issue of “Christianisation” may be driving non-violent
central government. and violent extremists together. Until recently, the attach-
ment of salafi jihadis – the violent extremists – to a more
 Reluctance to prosecute “hate speech” partly out of internationalist agenda led them to generally steer clear of
confusion over acceptable limits on legitimate free local “anti-apostasy” activists. But the loss of other local
expression. drivers for recruitment, particularly the end of sectarian
 Lack of any serious effort to promote tolerance as a violence in Poso, Central Sulawesi, has made “Christiani-
national value. sation” more attractive as a rallying cry. In Palembang,
South Sumatra in 2008, a fugitive Singaporean member
of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) recruited members of an anti-
Indonesia: “Christianisation” and Intolerance
Crisis Group Asia Briefing N°114, 24 November 2010 Page 2

apostasy group called FAKTA by first persuading them tianity are often afraid or unwilling to change the religious
that murder, rather than non-violent advocacy, was the only designation on their identity card, so they are counted as
way to stop Christian proselytisation. And in September Muslims in the census.5 One pastor said the fastest growing
2010, dozens of Acehnese on trial for taking part in a ter- segment of converts on Java was the thirteen to eighteen-
rorist training camp cited as one of their motivations con- year-old age group, young people travelling into the cities
cern over “Christianisation” in Aceh. for work or school and becoming exposed to Christian
Terrorist networks in Indonesia have grown substantially
weaker and more divided over the last five years, but sys- The concern about “Christianisation” is such that the na-
tematic exploitation of the fear that Christians are making tional council of Islamic scholars (Majelis Ulama Indonesia,
inroads on Islam might bring them new followers, including MUI) in 2006 set up a Committee to Handle the Danger
from among the vigilantes that they have hitherto largely of Apostasy (Komite Penganggulangan Bahaya Pemurta-
shunned. dan). The name was later changed to the Special Dakwah
Committee (Komite Dakwah Khusus, KPK).


Most agree that West Java is one of the fastest growing
Concern over “Christianisation” has been part of Islamist areas for evangelical Christianity, although no one is quite
rhetoric in Indonesia going back to the 1960s and exists sure why. One official suggested that the many workers
independently of facts on the ground.1 Hardliners like to in the region’s large industrial estates, uprooted from
cite a verse from the Quran, “Jews and Christians will not their traditional social networks, were attracted to groups
be happy with you unless you follow their religion”, as that offer ready-made communities.7 An official at the
proof that Judaism and Christianity are focused on con- Indonesian Communion of Churches, a Protestant um-
version.2 One leading Islamist in Bekasi suggests that it is brella organisation, said the big evangelical organisations
not so much that Christianity has gained ground but that were deliberately targeting West Java and Banten, the
the growing strength of Islamist groups is finally enabling provinces that ring Jakarta, in the hope that a pincer move-
them to push back.3 ment of proselytisation would eventually gain them a
bigger foothold in the capital.8 Others attributed the growth
In fact, evangelical Protestantism has seen significant simply to the large amounts of funding available for Chris-
growth in recent years. According to the 2000 census, tian outreach activities in the wider metropolitan Jakarta
Indonesian Christians officially constitute about 8.8 per area.
cent of the population, of whom 5.8 per cent are Protes-
tant and 3 per cent Catholic. Muslims are 88.2 per cent, While much of the evangelical outreach is aimed at main-
Hindus (mostly on Bali) 1.8 per cent, and Buddhists, Con- stream Christians, not Muslims, some of these organisa-
fucians and others make up the rest. Many Protestant tions have specific projects aimed at conversion.
evangelicals believe the true percentage of Christians is
closer to 12 to 15 per cent, and some put the figure even
higher, although this is dismissed as wishful thinking by
more objective sources.4 Some said that converts to Chris- Uzbekistan. See www.secretbelievers.org.) It should be noted
that the growth in Christian evangelicalism probably comes
more from Christians switching denominations than from con-
1 5
For related reporting, see Crisis Group Asia Briefings N°78, Crisis Group interview, Jakarta, July 2009. The number of
Indonesia: Implications of the Ahmadiyah Decree, 7 July 2008; people who hide their real religious affiliation may not be sta-
and N°92, Indonesia: Radicalisation of the “Palembang Group”, tistically significant however. The percentages in the national
20 May 2009. census data are generally supported by private survey firms.
2 6
The quotation is from Sura al-Baqarah, verse 120. Crisis Group interview, National Research Network Alliance
“Murhali Barda Bendung Kristenisasi dengan Keularga (Persekutuan Jaringan Riset Nasional, PJRN), a Christian
Samara”, Suara Hidayatullah, 17 June 2010. organisation, Jakarta, 6 August 2009.
4 7
Crisis Group interviews, Jakarta, June 2009. An official at the Crisis Group interview, government official, Bekasi city gov-
Ministry of Religious Affairs put the figure at 12 per cent. A ernment, 5 November 2010.
source from the Indonesian office of World Harvest, an interna- Crisis Group interview, Protestant church official, Jakarta, 10
tional organisation based in the U.S., estimated a total of 20 per October 2010. A leading anti-“Christianisation” campaigner, the
cent. A website about persecuted Christians gives a figure of 15 FPI’s Murhali Barda, has made similar statements, that Christians
to 17 per cent. (Indonesia is one of eight countries where the are starting in the suburbs but Jakarta is the real prize. See “Mur-
site maintains a watchlist of harassment of Christian converts; hali Barda Bendung Kristenisasi Dengan Keluarga Samara”,
the others are Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Malaysia, Pakistan, Somalia and Suara Hidayatullah, 17 June 2010.
Indonesia: “Christianisation” and Intolerance
Crisis Group Asia Briefing N°114, 24 November 2010 Page 3

 The Joshua Project, which defines its mission as placed Edhie on a list of the most reviled converts in In-
“bringing definition to an unfinished task”, targets donesia; in 2006, one of his students became the target of
ethnic communities around the world “with the least attempted murder by a group in Palembang linked to the
followers of Christ” and thus presumably most in need late terrorist leader, Noordin Top.13
of salvation. The Sundanese of West Java are regarded
as one of these groups, with less than 2 per cent of the In Bekasi, the focus of this briefing, municipal statistics
population evangelicals. The project’s database of un- show a steady growth of Protestants in relative terms.14
reached peoples is designed for “mission strategists” Part of the increase may be due to the steady in-migration
anywhere so that they can target their efforts more of Protestant Bataks from Sumatra to look for work.
 Lampstand (Beja Kabungahan), started by an Ameri- B. YAYASAN MAHANAIM
can missionary in 1969, focuses on “evangelism and
church planting among the Sundanese people of West Conversion efforts aimed at Muslims, however, continue
Java”. to cause controversy, none more so than Yayasan Maha-
naim or the Mahanaim Foundation.15 It was founded as a
 Partners International, based in Spokane, Washington, social and educational organisation on 1 November 1999
also targets “unreached populations” by having local by a pastor named Rachel Indriati Tjipto Purnomo Wenas,
partners initiate community development projects and better known as Iin Tjipto, and is part of a network of
eventually plant “culturally appropriate” churches.10 Pentecostal organisations across Java run by a family of
It supports Vision Indonesia 1:1:1, which aims to have ethnic Chinese origin.16 It focuses on ministering to the
missionaries plant one church in one village in one gen- poor, particularly street children, and has set up shelters
eration, working through the Evangelical Theological in Makassar and Papua as well as Bekasi. It also runs an
Seminary of Indonesia (ETSI) and some 30 branches orphanage called House of Hope (Rumah Harapan), and a
around Indonesia. It is also supports the Sundanese school that gives full scholarships to students from kin-
Christian Fellowship of about a dozen groups around dergarten through high school. According to one Yayasan
West Java.
 Frontiers, an Arizona-based organisation aimed at con- 13
See Crisis Group Briefing, Indonesia: Radicalisation of the
verting Muslims, has a small operation in West Java. “Palembang Group”, op. cit.
 The Orlando-based Campus Crusade for Christ has an In 2000, Bekasi city had a population of 1,668,494 of whom
89 per cent were Muslim, 6.5 per cent were Protestant and 3.2
active Indonesian branch known as Lembaga Pelayanan
per cent were Catholic. By 2009, the population had jumped to
Mahasiswa Indonesia (LPMI). It caused a furore during 2,145,447 of whom 87.3 per cent were Muslim, 8.05 per cent
a training session in December 2006 in Batu, Malang, Protestant and 2.98 per cent Catholic. The 2000 figures are
East Java, when as part of a prayer meeting, a pastor from the municipal bureau of statistics. The 2009 figures are
placed a Quran on the floor and urged participants to from a book published by the municipal religious harmony
gather round and expel the evil within it.11 The pastor forum, Rumah Ibadat di Kota Bekasi, published in late 2009.
and most of the participants were arrested for blas- The statistics are from July of that year.
phemy. LPMI is active in West Java. The name “Mahanaim” is the place mentioned in the Bible
where King David of Israel defeated Absalom. The foundation’s
Islamist groups consider some of the home-grown evan- website is www.love-mahanaim.or.id.
gelical organisations even more of an abomination than The patriarch, Iin Tjipto’s father, is a pastor, Yusak Tjipto
the internationally-linked ones. A theological school in Purnomo, born in 1935 in Jepara. In Bandung, where he now
south Bekasi, Integrated Bible Training School (Sekolah lives, he founded the Doa Ecclesia association. His son, Daniel
Alkitab Terampil dan Terpadu), is run by Edhie Sapto, a Cipto, founded a group called Ark of Christ, aimed at preaching
Madurese convert who recruits in Muslim communities by among young people. Daniel’s younger sister, Nani Susanty,
founded a branch of Doa Ecclesia in Cirebon and preaches over
using pamphlets with Arabic titles that look like Islamic a radio station called Suara Gratia. In 2006, the station was
tracts but which in fact are Bible teachings.12 Each student attacked by FPI and various anti-apostasy organisations for
in his school is required to convert ten others before gradu- sponsoring programs to convert Muslims to Christianity. In
ating. FAKTA, the Islamic anti-apostasy organisation, Semarang, another son of Yusak Tjipto, Petrus Agung Purnomo,
founded a group called the Gospel Kingdom (Kerajaan Injil)
and built the so-called Holy Stadium with a capacity of tens of
See www.joshuaproject.net. thousands for mass revival meetings. Ethnicity is an issue here
Crisis Group interview, Jakarta, August 2009, and www.partner because Indonesia has been largely free of anti-Chinese violence
sintl.org. since the 1998 riots that led to President Soeharto’s resignation.
See www.youtube.com/watch?v=Izc2yoeE-hQ. The strong representation of ethnic Chinese in the evangelical
The school is run by the foundation once known as Kaki movement in Indonesia could make them a target in communities
Dian Emas and now as Yayasan Bethmidrash Talmiddin. with contesting Muslim and Christian fundamentalist movements.
Indonesia: “Christianisation” and Intolerance
Crisis Group Asia Briefing N°114, 24 November 2010 Page 4

Mahanaim source, the school serves the poor because no of Bibles.20 They demanded that the festival be stopped,
one else takes care of them and therefore they are open to urged the mayor to be more careful when granting per-
accepting Jesus Christ.17 mits and exhorted the Muslim faithful to beware of all
conversion efforts. “If we don’t receive a meaningful re-
In 2007, the foundation claimed to have 15,000 members sponse within a week”, the letter concluded, “we will
and reportedly had amassed assets of about Rp.125 billion mobilise the masses”.21
($12.5 million), with average monthly operating expenses
of about Rp.1 billion ($100,000).18 Its wealth comes from Separately, activists from FAPB, FPI, Forum Umat Islam
tithing of affluent members; a business division that runs (FUI) and others began tearing down posters across the
everything from bookstores to air conditioning service city advertising the event.
and repair; and property. One foundation official was sen-
tenced to ten years in prison in 2006 for his role in a million- The protests escalated as soon as the festival began, with
dollar embezzlement scheme involving a military housing FAPB organising a “long march” from the Islamic Centre
complex.19 to the mayor’s office to demand Yayasan Mahanaim and
its activities be shut down. They said the mass wedding
Friction with Islamic organisations in Bekasi started when was preceded by a ceremony led by a pastor that involved
Yayasan Mahanaim began holding events before Christ- “hymn-singing and baptism-like activities” and urged
mas and Easter such as fairs and food give-aways to the that all couples get remarried at the Bekasi Islamic Centre
poor that were linked to revival meetings (kebaktian ke- because their Yayasan Mahanaim-sponsored weddings
bangunan rohani, KKR). One event took place on 1 De- were tainted under Islamic law.22 As proof of Yayasan
cember 2007 in the open space around PT Taman Puri Mahanaim’s misuse of the permit it got from the mayor,
Indah, Pekayon, with music, dancing and fireworks. Most FAPB cited one B3 event in the Kota Baru division of
of the visitors were Muslim, and Islamic organisations West Bekasi subdistrict. In front of the division office, a
accused Yayasan Mahanaim of trying to trick unsuspect- stage was set up and dangdut, a much-loved form of pop
ing locals into becoming Christians by this kind of enter- music, began playing over loudspeakers. The local B3
tainment. committee urged the crowd to sway with the music. Then,

Even more controversial was a festival organised by Yaya- One by one the audience was invited up to a children’s
san Mahanaim with all the necessary municipal permits in swimming pool filled with water. Each person was di-
late 2008 called “Bekasi Shares in Happiness” (Bekasi rected into the pool where his or her face was repeat-
Berbagi Bahagia or B3). Scheduled to run for two weeks, edly splashed with water. When it was over, the person
it began on 23 November and featured events in more was given food and drink. Anyone who did this re-
than 100 different places around the district, offering ceived an envelope from the committee.23
prizes such as televisions and mobile phones to contest-
ants in various kinds of competitions, with a grand prize per FAPB documented their claims with photographs and
subdistrict of a new car. Yayasan Mahanaim also spon- brought them to the municipal government. Faced with
sored a mass wedding during the festival for 153 mostly mounting protests, the Bekasi city administration cancelled
Muslim couples who could not afford one on their own. the remaining activities.24

Even before the festival got underway, conservative Mus-

lim organisations, led by a coalition calling itself the Bekasi
Anti-Apostasy Front (Front Anti Pemurtadan Bekasi,
FAPB), accused Yayasan Mahanaim of luring the poor
into apostasy, alleging a public program organised by the
foundation on 17 May 2008 concluded with distribution
“Pernyataan Sikap Front Anti Permurtadan Bekasi ttg B3”,
letter signed on 21 November 2008. Posted on http://fapbekasi.
multiply.com/journal/item/1, 25 November 2008.
“Acara Bekasi Berbagi Bahagia, Pemurtadan Terselubung”,
Crisis Group discussion, Pentecostal activist, Jakarta, 8 October Republika, 6 December 2008.
2010. “Bukti-Bukti Penyalahgunaan Terhadap Surat Rekomendasi
Internet chat from Imelda Abigail, head of Yayasan Mahanaim’s Walikota Bekasi”, http://fapbekasi.multiply.com/journal/item/
entrepreneurship program, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ 2/BUKTI-BUKTI_PEMURTADAN_-_B3, 25 November 2008.
terangduniamail/message/42179. Crisis Group tried repeatedly The implication is that there was cash in the envelope.
to interview Yayasan Mahanaim personnel, requesting meetings The mayor, who signed the original permit, and his deputy
by telephone and by email, but no one was willing to meet. were both on the haj, so it was the municipal secretary who
“Setelah Duit Tentara Melayang”, Tempo, 13 March 2006. withdrew the permit in face of the protests.
Indonesia: “Christianisation” and Intolerance
Crisis Group Asia Briefing N°114, 24 November 2010 Page 5

Yayasan Mahanaim activists denied they were engaged in across the political spectrum.30 He was involved in a brawl
conversion, and a senior Bekasi official said nothing pre- that drew national attention in June 2008 near Jakarta’s
sented by the Islamists constituted proof.25 One high school national monument (Monas) when a militia involving FPI
student wrote: men attacked demonstrators calling for freedom of relig-
ion, including for the Ahmadiyah sect.31 He was taken to
We use our school and the foundation to hold revival the police station at the time but quickly released without
meetings, sometimes with 5,000 people or more. Most charge.
of the people who come are Muslims since they’re the
majority here. Many miracles take place – the sick are FPI, a national organisation that preposterously claims
cured, the blind can see, all because of our Lord. We fifteen million sympathisers, seems to be enjoying a re-
continued these programs and many were happy to surgence after several years of decline.32 Established with
take part. But then FPI began to get wind of our activi- the support of top army and police officers in 1998, FPI
ties. They didn’t try to look for facts, they just started was initially seen as a conservative counterweight to the
demonstrating saying “Stop Christianisation!” I didn’t students whose protests had led to the fall of Soeharto.33
think too much about it, but then it turned out they Its leaders promote strict adherence to Islamic law but
were really going after us – when we were only doing they are not salafi in any doctrinal sense nor do they seek
God’s work. Then we talked with some of the people an Islamic state. The majority of its members are vigi-
who had taken part in the program, not one of them lante thugs (preman) with little or no religious training,
said they wanted to become Christian or rejected Islam who see Islamic gangs in post-Soeharto Indonesia as where
or any such thing. Instead they said things like “Al- the action is.
hamdulillah, God is truly good, my injuries are cured!”
or “Do this again soon” when we distributed cheap As one preman convert to the Islamic Defenders’ Front
food and cooking oil. All the responses were positive.26 candidly explained, “now, in the reformasi era, national-
ism, ‘defending the state’ (bela bangsa) and all that shit
The B3 program, however, triggered a renewed determi- don’t cut it anymore. It’s the groups that are about jihad
nation among Islamist groups to fight “Christianisation”, and fighting vice (maksiat) that are the way to go”.34
and friction between evangelists and Islamists in Bekasi
moved to a new level.27 The thugs, who constitute FPI’s militia, are led by a
group of more educated and religiously trained activists
like Murhali who set policy and procedures, lead religious
C. THE FPI AND OTHERS FIGHT BACK discussions and determine the group’s targets. FPI’s cen-
tral board has an investigation committee which identifies
One man who emerged from the protests against the B3 specific locations, usually places of “vice” or unauthor-
program as an Islamist star and self-styled “dam against
Christianisation” was KH Murhali Barda of FPI.28 The
so-called “Lion of Bekasi”, Murhali is a charismatic 37- 30
Among Gontor’s graduates are the late Nurcholish Majid,
year-old ethnic Betawi who sports sunglasses and a Pales- one of Indonesia’s most respected Muslim intellectuals; Abu
tinian scarf (keffiah), relishes the limelight and claims to Bakar Ba’asyir of Jemaah Islamiyah, MMI and JAT; Hidayat
have been fighting “Christianisation” for the last five Nurwahid, the leader of the Prosperous Justice Party; and head
years.29 He is a graduate of Pondok Modern Gontor, the of the Muhammadiyah organisation, Din Syamsuddin.
famous school in East Java that counts among its alumni See Crisis Group Briefing, Indonesia: Implications of the Ahma-
some of Indonesia’s best-known Muslim leaders from diyah Decree, op. cit.
Its leader, Habib Rizieq was arrested in June 2008 and sen-
tenced to eighteen months in prison for the June 2008 attack on
the freedom of religion march. The attack caused such public
anger that there were calls for FPI’s dissolution. One report
Crisis Group interview, Jakarta, 15 November 2010. said the organisation was degenerating into thugs for hire and
See Facebook page “Berbagai Pengalaman Terhadap tidakan the central leadership had lost control of its regional offices.
FPI”, http://bs-ba.facebook.com/topic.php?uid+29594608648& See “Islam Defenders mutating into splinter cells for hire”,
topic=16435. Jakarta Post, 16 July 2010. The figure of fifteen million comes
Murhali Barda cites B3 as a turning point in the struggle from “Pro dan Kontra Aksi Front Pembela Islam (FPI)”, Sorot
against “Christianisation” in an interview, “Akan Perjuangan 90, Vivanews, http://sorot.vivanews.com/news/read/161959-
kepada Buah Hati”, Suara Hidayatullah, November 2010. infografik, 2 July 2010. Since there is no real membership proce-
KH is an abbreviation for Kyai Haji, denoting an Islamic dure, it is impossible to estimate the number of its followers.
leader who has made the pilgrimage to Mecca. Ian Douglas Wilson, “‘As Long as It’s Halal’: Islamic Preman
See interview with Murhali Barda, “Untuk Umat Islam Saya in Jakarta”, in Greg Fealy and Sally White (eds.), Expressing
Rela Dipenjara”, Suara Hidayatullah, November 2010, p. 36. Islam: Religious Life and Politics in Indonesia (Singapore, 2008),
He says he was inspired by the founder of FAKTA, Abu Deedat pp. 192-210.
Syihabuddin. Ibid.
Indonesia: “Christianisation” and Intolerance
Crisis Group Asia Briefing N°114, 24 November 2010 Page 6

ised churches, on the basis of reports from the community. the FAPB, which counts Abu Bakar Ba’asyir’s JAT as a
It then files a complaint with the police and takes action if member.41
– or more frequently when – the police fail to respond.

While the police rarely act on the FPI’s complaints, it III. THE “HUMAN CROSS” AND
does give the police the opportunity to give forewarning OTHER CONTROVERSIES
to businesses on the FPI hit list, which can pay for police
protection, strengthen their own security or make the FPI
an offer.35 On National Education Day, 2 May 2010, an anti-drug
march took place in Bekasi, supposedly sponsored by the
FPI’s popularity in Bekasi may be due both to Murhali Bekasi Narcotics Board but, as it turned out, without its
Barda’s role and the tensions that facilitate mobilisation sanction. As the marchers passed the al-Barkah Mosque,
for action against churches. On 15 February 2010, Mur- a group wearing shirts with the Star of David embroidered
hali led a group of vigilantes from sixteen Islamic organi- in yellow on the back broke off and formed a human cross
sations to stop construction in the Villa Galaxy complex in front of the mosque.42 They unfurled a flag with a lion,
in South Bekasi of the Galilea Church – which had already a flaming sword, and seven names of God – Adonai, El
secured a building permit from the municipal government, Shaddai, Jehova Rapha, Jehovah Nissi, Jehovah Shalom,
although one required recommendation was missing.36 Jehovah Shamah and The Master of Breakthrough – and
Murhali accused the church of distributing food and cook- distributed stickers that said “Yoel generation”. They then
ing oil to the poor, like Yayasan Mahanaim, to entice them placed a Christian crown and staff in front of the mosque.
to convert.37 The vigilantes, from Dewan Dakwah Islami-
yah Indonesia (DDII), the Indonesian Mujahidin Council No one is sure what organisation, if any, the marchers
(Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia, MMI) and many others, were representing, but the stickers were revealing. Evan-
forced construction to stop.38 To this day it has not resumed, gelicals use the term “Joel generation” to refer to the bib-
although officials say as soon as the last recommendation lical prophecies of Joel about the army of believers that
comes through, it can go ahead. Murhali is currently in will defeat the Antichrist when the Lord returns to earth,
police custody awaiting trial on suspicion of inciting an and it is a popular name for evangelical youth rallies in
attack in mid-September 2010 on members of a Protestant the U.S.43 In Bekasi, the term is common among Yayasan
congregation – but only because the attack led to the Mahanaim activists; one in Cirebon, West Java runs a
stabbing of a church elder and caused a national outcry.39 blog called Generasi Yoel (www.generasiyoel.blogspot.
com) to which Pastor Iin Tjipto is a frequent contributor.
In Bekasi, as in the metropolitan Jakarta area more broadly,
FPI works closely with Forum Umat Islam (FUI), an One Yayasan Mahanaim activist also acknowledged taking
Islamist coalition set up in August 2005 and dedicated to part in the action. “We just had another program and
fighting pluralism.40 FPI thugs act as the security detail again this is called ‘Christianisation’”, he wrote in a blog.
for FUI protests and demonstrations. As these groups “The purpose of the [cross] formation was to cleanse the
stepped up anti-“Christianisation” activities in Bekasi, area, to ensure that evil spirits did not attack those who
they also supported the establishment of a new coalition, were praying [inside the mosque]”.44

Ibid, p. 192.
36 41
A senior Bekasi official said the permit was issued even Ba’asyir, the former amir of JI, founded JAT in 2008. See
though the dossier for the permit was missing a required letter Crisis Group Asia Briefing No107, Indonesia: The Dark Side of
from the municipal Religious Affairs office. At the time this Jama’ah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT), 6 July 2010.
was not seen as an obstacle. Crisis Group interview, Jakarta, 15 Several Pentecostal groups use the Star of David, in
November 2010. recognition of their belief that the Second Coming will lead to
“16 Ormas Islam Bekasi Menyegel Gereja Galilea”, Antara the restoration of Israel and the tabernacle of David.
News, 15 February 2010. There is a Generation of Joel facebook page in Indonesian in
Ibid. The other organisations involved were Masyarakat which participants refer to each other as “GOJers”: Persekutuan
Muara Gembong, Bina An Nisa Dewan Da’wah Bekasi, Irene Doa Pemuda Interdenominasi The Generation Of Joel (GOJ).
Centre, Forum Silaturahmi Masjid dan Mushala Galaxi, FPI, According to a website of an evangelical church in Texas, “The
Forum Remaja Islam Medan Satria, FKUB, Persatuan Islam mission of the Joel Generation Conference is to continue our
(PERSIS), Komite Penegak Syariah (KPS), Muhammadiyah, quest for a revolution in our generation. To ignite a burning
Gerakan Pemuda Islam (GPI), Masyarakat Peduli Syariah heart of passion for Jesus and the lost. And to take back what
(MPS), and Gabungan Remaja Islam (GARIS). the enemy stole”, www.easternheightschurch.org/joelgenabout.
For details, see Section IV below. htm/.
40 44
For more on FUI, see Crisis Group Briefing, Indonesia: See Facebook page “Berbagai Pengalaman Terhadap tidakan
Implications of the Ahmadiyah Decree, op. cit., pp. 10-11. FPI”, op. cit.
Indonesia: “Christianisation” and Intolerance
Crisis Group Asia Briefing N°114, 24 November 2010 Page 7

A. THE ISLAMIST REACTION  Agree to unite, cooperate closely and work out a com-
prehensive strategy for mutual protection in confronting
Not surprisingly, the Islamist community was outraged at any threat from another community to upholding the
what it saw as an act of blasphemy and provocation. truth of Islam.
FAPB called two religious rallies (tabligh akbar), the first
A discussion about the issue was aired on 13 May on Radio
on 8 May in South Bekasi, led by hardliner KH Athian
Dakta 107 FM, an Islamist station close to DDII, and on
Ali, head of the Forum Ulama Ummat Indonesia (FUUI),
14 May, following a mass demonstration of Islamic organi-
the second on 9 May at the al-Barkah Mosque, led by
sations, a copy of the “Bekasi Declaration” was formally
Abu Bakar Ba’asyir and noted preacher Abdul Qadir
presented to the city government. The alleged organiser
Djaelani.45 The rally brought together conservatives in the
of the “human cross” action, Wong Christopher Cahyadi,
Bekasi area across ideological lines, violent and non-
was declared a blasphemy suspect a few days later, but he
violent, salafi and non-salafi. It included representatives
was eventually released without charge for lack of evidence.
from the ulama council; Muslim delegates to the city gov-
ernment’s Forum for Religious Harmony (Forum Keru- The tension between the evangelicals and the Islamists in
kunan Umat Beragama, FKUB); Islamic non-governmental Bekasi did not end there. On 23 June 2010, Yayasan
organisations and mosque leaders. The main topic was Mahanaim allegedly attempted to carry out what Muslim
the mosque incident, in the context of “Christianisation” activists called a baptism by stealth of at least 350 Mus-
more generally; Ba’asyir noted that according to Islamic lims at an elite housing complex, Perumahan Kemang
law, those who insult Islam should be beheaded.46 Pratama Regency. According to an anti-Yayasan Maha-
naim website, fourteen minibuses pulled up to the home
At its conclusion, the FPI’s Murhali Barda read an eight-
of Hendry Leonardi Sutanto, one of Yayasan Mahanaim’s
point statement “in the name of residents and Muslims of
directors. A few women living nearby, curious about
greater Bekasi”, stating that the 40 signatories:
what was happening, asked the complex’s security guards
 Reject the construction of churches that do not fulfil a who reported that it was a mass baptism. The neighbours
genuine need, do not follow existing regulations, are informed the local mosque, and a group came shortly after-
not honest or open. ward to break up the gathering, with a cameraman to
videotape the event. The participants, many of them women
 Oppose all efforts at “Christianisation” aimed at the with headscarves who had been bused in from central
Muslim community. Jakarta, seemed confused at what they were attending.47
Some said they were there for recreation; the organiser,
 Demand that the offence to Islam be avenged. Andreas Dusly Sanau, a young Yayasan Mahanaim activist
 Demand that the city of Bekasi, the police and others from Jakarta, said he was providing instruction in English
act firmly in accordance with the law and impose heavy and mathematics.48 The mosque leaders called the police,
punishment on those who hurt religious harmony. who escorted Andreas and Hendry to the police station.49

 Agree to take measures on their own in accordance The most detailed coverage of Yayasan Mahanaim’s ac-
with Islamic law if the authorities fail to act. tivities, from a group disposed to suspect them, is on the
website Voice of al-Islam (www.voa-islam.com). The site
itself has an interesting history. It was founded by a KOM-
PAK man, Salman alias Apud, who was detained in Ma-
laysia under its Internal Security Act in 2003 as he was
45 returning from training in Mindanao with another Indone-
Athian Ali, a respected conservative cleric from Bandung, is
sian, Ahmad Sayid Maulana, a Darul Islam member.50
probably best-known for issuing a death sentence fatwa against
the founder of the Liberal Islam Network (Jaringan Islam Liberal,
JIL), Ulil Abshar Abdalla, in 2002. In 2007, he helped broker a
meeting between Abu Bakar Ba’asyir and salafi preacher Ja’far “Ratusan Warga Muslim Dibaptis Massal, Yayasan Maha-
Umar Thalib to try, without success, to end the rift between the naim Bekasi Berulah Lagi”, http://answering.wordpress.com/
two men. Abdul Qadir Djaelani was a leading political activist 2010/06/25/ratusan-warga-muslim-dibaptis-massal-kristen-
in the 1980s, was arrested after the 1984 riot in Tanjung Priok, mahanaim-bekasi-berulah-lagi/, 25 June 2010.
Jakarta, tried and sentenced to eighteen years, and released, “Mahanaim Bekasi adalah penipu ulang”, http://mahanaim
after various sentence reductions, in 1993. He served in parliament bekasi.blogspot.com/2010/07/mahanaim-bekasi-adalah-penipu-
from 1999 to 2004 as a member of the Islamist Crescent Star ulung.html, 25 June 2010.
Party (Partai Bulan Bintang, PBB). Ibid.
46 50
“Umat Islam Bekasi Bersatu Hadapi Kristen Radikal”, Voice KOMPAK, an acronym for Komite Aksi Penanggulangan
of al-Islam, 15 May 2010, www.voa-islam.com/news/indonesia/ Akibat Krisis (Action Committee for Crisis Response), was
2010/05/15/6058/deklarasi-umat-islam-bekasi-tuntut-qishas- originally a charity set up under DDII auspices in 1998 to assist
bagi-penghina-nabi-muhammad/. victims of conflict and natural disasters. After the conflict in
Indonesia: “Christianisation” and Intolerance
Crisis Group Asia Briefing N°114, 24 November 2010 Page 8

Both were released and returned to Indonesia. Maulana nus Catholic School in Pondok Gede, Bekasi. On 4 May,
returned almost immediately to jihadi activity; he was the local ulama council went to the Bekasi police and
killed in a police raid in May 2010 in Cawang, Jakarta. demanded action; the next evening, 5 May, the school
Apud took a different path and set up the website, an was attacked by a small group of thugs who vandalised a
online news portal aimed at Southeast Asian Muslims. As few rooms; no one was arrested.
the Bekasi events unfolded, he was in a unique position
to provide detailed reporting and commentary, as he lives The photograph of the Quran being stepped on turned out
a few houses away from the al-Barkah Mosque and his to be the work of a sixteen-year-old student at Bekasi
father is a leading cleric of DDII there.51 VOA-Islam and State High School No.5, Abraham Felix Grady, a Protes-
Radio Dakta have become key media nodes for the Islamist tant. On 11 February he had taken the photograph with
movement in Bekasi as well as facilitators of the tactical his friend’s mobile phone for fun and reportedly had no
alliance between violent and non-violent extremists. idea of how much anger it would cause.53 He sent the pho-
tograph to a friend’s phone and from the latter it reached
They have several equivalents on the evangelical side. the blogs.
One was Radio Gratia, run by the Cirebon branch of the
family behind Yayasan Mahanaim, but it was forced to Abraham, who denied posting anything on the internet
close after protests by the Islamists, especially Forum and begged forgiveness from the people of Bekasi, was
Ukhuwah Islamiyah (a different FUI), which argued that arrested on 12 May for blasphemy under Article 156a
it should not have a general broadcasting license because of the Criminal Code and Article 27(3) of a 2008 law
its message could lead Muslims astray.52 regulating transmittal of electronic information. He was
expelled from school after his arrest and no other school
would take him. It remains unclear who took the photo-
B. THE OFFENSIVE BLOGS graph of the Quran in the toilet and who posted the pho-
tographs on the blogs.
The fury over the “human cross” incident may have been
exacerbated by a series of unrelated but highly offensive The prosecutor requested that Abraham be sent to prison
blog posts involving Bekasi high school students that ap- for a year because he offended Muslim feelings. On the
peared in April and quickly became the talk of radical exculpatory side, he noted that the boy was honest and
Muslim websites. In one of the most egregious, a 21 April polite throughout the trial; that he was still a minor; that
posting titled “Wipe Out Islam in Indonesia” was accom- he had no motive for his actions aside from having fun;
panied by a photograph showing the Quran in a toilet and that he was already expelled from school; that he deeply
using coarse epithets to define each letter of the word “al- regretted his action; and that he was very open to guid-
kooran”. Another posting showed someone stepping on a ance. The judges accepted the prosecutor’s request and on
Quran and using an obscene hand gesture. The blog ap- 2 September sentenced Abraham to a year in prison, with
peared in the name of the Santo Bellarminus Teaching two years’ probation.54 On 8 October, Abraham’s parents
Foundation, as if to link it to the respected Santo Bellarmi- appealed the sentence, which under the circumstances
seems harsh.

Ambon erupted in January 1999, the KOMPAK office in Solo, The prank of an unthinking schoolboy suggests, however,
Central Java, formed and funded a militia called Mujahidin that anti-Muslim feelings may be inculcated at an early
KOMPAK. Together with two factions of Darul Islam, it age and run as high in some Christian communities as
developed its own links to Mindanao for training, separate from anti-Christian sentiment does in some Muslim ones.
JI. Former militia members with combat experience in Ambon
and Poso constitute the loose association known now as
KOMPAK. Ahmad Sayid Maulana helped set up a terrorist C. THE SCULPTURE SAGA
training camp in Aceh in 2009. After it was discovered in
February 2010, he fled to Jakarta where he was tracked down Another issue arose in May 2010 that engaged and enraged
and killed. For more on Maulana, see Crisis Group Asia
the Islamist community. In 2007, a seventeen metre-tall
Reports N°92, Recycled Militants in Indonesia: Darul Islam
and the Australian Embassy Bombing, 22 February 2005; and
statue by well-known Balinese sculptor Nyoman Nuarta
N°189, Jihadi Surprise in Aceh, 20 April 2010. was erected in front of the elite Kota Harapan Indah hous-
Private communication to Crisis Group, 10 October 2010. ing complex in Bekasi, near the border with East Jakarta,
See for example “Demo Siaran Radio Gratia”, www.salib.net, at a cost of Rp.2.5 billion (about $260,000). Called “Tiga
3 May 2006. A very strong argument in favor of keeping Radio
Gratia and other religious stations open is made in “Negara
Mesti Jamin Segala Bentuk Penyiaran Radio”, fahmina.or.id,
11 April 2008. The author argues that rather than succumbing “Mantan Siswa RSBI Itu Menyesal”, Radar Bekasi, 18 May 2010.
to pressure, the state should take the lead in defending freedom Kejaksaan Negeri Bekasi, Tuntutan Pidana Reg.Perk.Nomor:
of religion and expression. PDM-777/II/BKASI/07/2010.
Indonesia: “Christianisation” and Intolerance
Crisis Group Asia Briefing N°114, 24 November 2010 Page 9

Mojang” or “Three Beauties”, it depicted three Sundanese sia Perjuangan, PDIP), was suspected by hardline Muslim
women wearing traditional dress. Sundanese are the domi- leaders of favouring Christians. Under relentless pressure,
nant ethnic group in West Java, overwhelmingly Muslim, some felt that he had to make a concession over the statue
but there was never any hint of religious content in this or face escalating tensions.61
or any of the sculptor’s other work, which often uses cul-
tural themes.55 After meeting the protestors, without prior discussion
with the sculptor, the housing complex, or the company
For three years few complained. But beginning in mid- that ran it, PT. Dutabumi Adipratama, the mayor ordered
2010 the same groups active in the Yayasan Mahanaim the latter to take down the sculpture within a week.62
protests, particularly FUI, FPI and FAPB, began to demand After a week went by without any action, the mayor issued
the statue’s removal on a variety of grounds: initially that an ultimatum to the company. At 3:30am on 19 June, the
the bare-armed women were obscene and then, as the gigantic bronze and copper sculpture was dismantled and
“Christianisation” phobia increased, that the monument taken in pieces to Yogyakarta, where it was to be re-erected
was a representation of the Virgin Mary and that the three in front of a luxury hotel.
women symbolised the Trinity.56 The deputy head of FUI,
a convert to Islam, said he used to be a missionary and he The victory of the Islamists in this case had immediate
knew exactly what the sculpture’s proponents were up ramifications elsewhere. In Singakawang, West Kali-
to.57 Another argument was that the sculpture had been mantan, where FPI and other groups have demanded the
erected on a site important to Islam, in that it was where removal of a golden dragon statue in the middle of the
the Hizbullah militia had fought the Dutch during the town, calling it offensive to Islam, the efforts of the Bekasi
Indonesian revolution under an esteemed local religious Islamists sparked new calls to dismantle the dragon.
leader, Noer Alie, and many martyrs had fallen there.58

The same 14 May mass demonstration against “Chris- IV. THE HKBP CLASHES
tianisation”, organised largely by FPI and FKAB, involved
a march from the mayor’s office to the “Tiga Mojang”
statue. Watched by police, protestors spray-painted the Fear of “Christianisation” also prompted a series of in-
base, climbed the statue and tried to symbolically strap it creasingly violent efforts on the part of the Islamists to
up with cloth.59 On 17 May, five men representing the local prevent church construction. In Bekasi, the focus was on
ulama council, DDII, FPI and FUI met Bekasi Mayor the Batak Protestant Parish (Huria Kristen Batak Protes-
Mochtar Mohamed in his office with a list of demands, tan, HKBP), the largest Protestant denomination in Indo-
including the removal of the sculpture on the grounds that nesia – which has an ethnic-based membership, is not an
it lacked a building permit, which was true.60 evangelical church and does not seek Muslim converts.
Bekasi has a huge immigrant population from elsewhere
During the “human cross” incident, the mayor, a moderate in Indonesia, with Bataks one of the dominant groups,
Muslim elected with the support of Megawati Sukarnopu- and some argued that Batak tensions with local ethnic
tri’s Democratic Struggle Party (Partai Demokrat Indone- Betawi communities was as much socioeconomic and
cultural as it was religious.63 Nevertheless, HKBP’s ef-
forts to build churches for its members in the midst of
Commentary in a local Bekasi newspaper suggested that
Bekasi was probably not the right place for the statue, since it
was culturally Betawi (a hybrid of Arab, Chinese and Malay),
not Sundanese. See “Bekasi, Kota Tak Bermuka”, Radar “KH Sulaiman Zachawerus: Gerombolan Kristen Membuat
Bekasi, 21 May 2010. Kisruh”, Voice of al-Islam, 24 June 2010, www.voa-islam.com/
“Tiga Mojang ‘Dimutilasi’”, Radar Bekasi, 29 July 2010. news/interview/2010/06/24/6120/kh-sulaiman-zachawerus-
“Patung 3 Mojang Simbol Kristenisasi”, Berita Populer, 19 gerombolan-kristen-membuat-kisruh/. Even though the interview
May 2010, http://beritapopuler.com/patung-3-mojang-simbol- with Zachawerus, a leading hardliner in Bekasi district, took
kristenisasi.html. place in June, the reference to suspicions about the mayor refer
“Hormati Syuhada: Tugu ‘Seronok’ Tiga Mojang Diganti to the “human cross” incident. A Bekasi official confirmed that
Monumen Bambu Runcing”, Voice of al-Islam, 23 June 2010, the mayor took the decision reluctantly, after a meeting with
www.voa-islam.com/news/indonesia/2010/06/23/7366/hormati- the local police and military commanders, and only after main-
syuhada-tugu-seronok-tiga-mojang-diganti-monumen-bambu- stream Muslim leaders joined the protest.
runcing/. The order took the form of mayoral decision No.300/III8-Set/
“Patung Tiga Mojang HI Disegel”, Radar Bekasi, 15 May 2010. V/2010.
60 63
So many influential individuals, including some senior police One source suggested that the wealthier Betawi traders felt
officers, were linked to the company that erected the statue that threatened by the Bataks who bought up land and encroached
a permit was apparently considered unnecessary. Crisis Group on their patronage networks. Crisis Group interview, Christian
interview, Jakarta, 15 November 2010. leader, Jakarta, 17 November 2010.
Indonesia: “Christianisation” and Intolerance
Crisis Group Asia Briefing N°114, 24 November 2010 Page 10

Muslim-majority neighbourhoods led Islamists to portray obtaining construction permits, two faced particular diffi-
it as the spearhead of “Christianisation”. culties. One was the Filadelfia congregation in Tambun
Utara subdistrict in Bekasi district, outside the city; the
Church construction in Indonesia has been regulated other was in Pondok Timur Indah, within the city limits.
since 2006 by Joint Regulation 8/9 of the Home Affairs
and Religious Affairs Ministries. The regulation stipu-
lates that construction of any houses of worship is to be A. INITIAL LEGAL VICTORY FOR FILADELFIA
authorised at the district (kabupaten/kota) level and must
be based on a “clear need” with at least 90 potential The Filadelfia congregation was founded in 2000 by
members, with verified names and identity card numbers; Batak Christians living in four villages of Tambun Utara
support of 60 community members of different religions, subdistrict and for several years held services in mem-
whose identity cards have been verified by their village bers’ houses.68 In 2003, the congregation purchased land
head; and written recommendations from the heads of the and constructed two shophouses (ruko) in the Villa
district religious affairs office and religious harmony forum Bekasi Indah housing complex to use as a temporary site
(Forum Kerukunan Umat Beragama, FKUB).64 as they sought community support to build a permanent
church.69 Local residents and Islamic organisations pro-
The Forum for Religious Harmony, a body created by this tested, and HKBP members reverted to home-based ser-
regulation with offices at the provincial and district lev- vices, mostly in the same complex. These encountered
els, is entrusted with safeguarding good relations among protests as well, forcing a search for another solution.70
religious communities. At the district level, it consists of
seventeen individuals, with every recognised religion In June 2007, the congregation purchased another plot of
having one representative and the other members reflecting land in the village of Jejalen Jaya. By April 2008, they
the relative percentage of their adherents. The Bekasi city had collected the requisite number of signatures of support
FKUB has twelve Muslims, one Protestant, one Catholic, from non-Christians in the area, got a recommendation
one Hindu, one Buddhist and one Confucian.65 According from the village head, and submitted these materials to
to one member, it has never refused a permit to churches the district head (bupati), district religious affairs office,
that secured the required number of signatures.66 FKUB Bekasi and the subdistrict head (camat) as per the
2006 regulation. They built a temporary structure on the
More detailed requirements for building a house of wor- Jejalen Jaya plot while waiting for permission to come
ship are set out in implementing regulations at the district through, but it never did. As officials sat on the request,
or municipal level where the building permit (Izin the temporary church – more a shelter from the sun and
Mendirikan Bangunan, IMB) is issued.67 rain than a building – was attacked several times, and
pressure to shut it down increased from FPI and like-
While many HKBP congregations in and around Jakarta, minded groups.
West Java and Banten have encountered obstacles in
On 29 December 2009, the congregation was told it
would have to stop holding services at the site, but con-
Article 14, “Peraturan Bersama Menteri Agama Dan Menteri gregants could worship in Jejalen Jaya village hall while
Dalam Negeri Nomor: 9 Tahun 2006 Dan Nomor: 8 Tahun waiting for a permit – which seemed increasingly unlikely
2006 Tentang Pedoman Pelaksanaan Tugas Kepala Daerah/ to materialise. On 31 December, however the bupati,
Wakil Kepala Daerah Dalam Pemeliharaan Kerukunan Umat Sa’duddin, issued a decree formalising the ban on ser-
Beragama, Pemberdayaan Forum Kerukunan Umat Beragama, vices at the shelter, on the grounds that lack of a permit
Dan Pendirian Rumah Ibadat”, 21 March 2006. violated the joint ministerial decree and district building
“Susunan Pengurus FKUB”, www.fkubkotabekasi.com/ laws. Then on 12 January 2010, after protests from various
tentang-kami/susunan-pengurus-fkub.html, 2009. Of the Mus- Islamist coalitions including FUI and Forum Komunikasi
lims, the head is from DDII; the deputy and two other members
are from the mainstream mass organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama.
Umat Islam (FKUI), with local activists reinforced by
Two more are from another large mainstream organisation,
Muhammadiyah. One is from the conservative organisation
Persatuan Islam (PERSIS). Two are from the Islamic Centre in The villages are Jejalen Jaya, Mangun Jaya, Satria Jaya and
Bekasi, and one represents a smaller dakwah organisation. Two Sumber Jaya.
members died since their selection and have not yet been replaced. Shophouses are usually two- or three-storey buildings with a
Crisis Group interview, FKUB member, Bekasi, 5 November shop on the ground floor and residential space above.
2010. “Laporan Khusus HKBP Filadelfia Bekasi: Karena Disegel,
In Bekasi, Municipal Regulation No. 16/2006 (Peraturan Jemaat Beribadah Beratapkan Langit dan Beralaskan Koran”,
Walikota Bekasi Nomor 16/2006) spells out in more detail the www.SuaraBangsaKu.com, 13 January 2010. On 2 April 2006,
letters, recommendations, site plans and photographs needed as in the face of a large demonstration, the head of the congregation
well as size limitations of buildings relative to number of ex- was forced to sign a statement that HKBP would cease conducting
pected users and the respective roles of local officials. services in Villa Bekasi Indah.
Indonesia: “Christianisation” and Intolerance
Crisis Group Asia Briefing N°114, 24 November 2010 Page 11

hundreds of others coming in from Tanjung Priok and and construction authority (Dinas Penataan dan Penga-
Petamburan, Sa’duddin had the entrance to the temporary wasan Bangunan, P2B) sealed off the house.73
church sealed off with tape, like that used in protecting
crime scenes. The congregation decided to hold services HKBP members paid no attention, removed the seals and
in the street instead; residents complained about the traffic continued to meet in the house on Sundays, infuriating
problems caused. the Islamists. After a meeting on 13 June, FPI-Bekasi
leader Murhali Barda, representing the activists, and
The Islamists may have won that round, but Filadelfia Bekasi Mayor Mochtar Mohamad signed a joint state-
fought back. In March HKBP sued the bupati in the West ment drafted by the former, saying that the parties agreed
Java administrative court, challenging the legality of the that the “Tiga Mojang” sculpture would be removed, the
December 2009 decree and in September, the judges government would ask the police to move against Yayasan
ruled in its favour. The court said the decree was in viola- Mahanaim, and:
tion of not only the 2006 regulation, because the congre-
gation had gathered the requisite number of signatures, The Bekasi government will immediately issue orders
but also the provision on freedom of religion in the Inter- that measures be put in place re the misuse of the
national Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.71 The Pondok Timur Indah 1 Housing Complex ... and in-
district government appealed the decision and as of No- structing that the house be returned to its original
vember 2010, Filadelfia had still not secured a building function, as well as having the Bekasi police take firm
permit. action against members of the HKBP congregation
who removed the seal put in place there.74
B. VIOLENCE AGAINST ANOTHER The statement concluded, “The Bekasi city government
HKBP CONGREGATION will not enact any decision or policy that offends the
Muslims of Bekasi”.75
The HKBP congregation in Pondok Timur Indah had
similar problems. Since 2007, under the leadership of On 20 June 2010, the city again sealed off the Pondok
Pastor Luspita Simanjuntak, it had been meeting in a Timur Indah house, as Muslims called for Bekasi to be
house owned by the members in Pondok Timur Indah. declared a “shariah city” (kota syariah) – and as national
Perhaps buoyed by their temporary victory in getting the coverage of the case increased. On 8 July, at a meeting
Filadelfia church closed in January, on 7 February 2010, between HKBP pastors and the Bekasi military and police
thousands of Muslims surrounded the house during Sun- commanders, religious affairs office, and other local offi-
day services and demanded that all further activities be cials, it was agreed that the congregation would no longer
forbidden, on the grounds that they were disturbing the meet at the temporary church but move to a new location
neighbours and that HKBP had no authority to use the in Ciketing, Mustika Jaya subdistrict, where a congrega-
house as a church. Pastor Luspita argued that the congre- tion member had purchased land. The next day, the Bekasi
gation had been trying to get a permit since 1996 and had district secretary signed a letter banning services at the
collected 221 signatures in the community, but had failed temporary church but authorising the congregation to use
because officials refused to give the necessary recom- the new site.76 On 11 July, emboldened by the letter, the
mendations. The city maintains that HKBP never for- congregation held services for the first time outdoors in the
mally submitted the request until August 2010.72 On 28 empty lot in Ciketing, guarded by a cordon of police.77
February, Islamists staged a bigger protest. This time it
worked. On 1 March, officials of the municipal building

“Gereja HKBP Pondok Timur Akhirnya Disegel”, Sinar
Harapan, 2 March 2010. The building office left behind a sign
saying “This building is closed based on Regulation (PP) No.
“PTUN Bandung Menangkan Gugatan HKBP Bekasi”, 36/2005, District Regulations No. 61/1999, No. 74/1999, No.
Koran Tempo, 15 September 2010. Indonesia ratified the 4/2000, and Mayoral Decree No. 15/1998”.
ICCPR through Law 12/2006. According to the 2006 regula- For full text of the statement see “Walikota Setujui Tuntutan
tion, in cases where a community wanting to build a house of Umat Islam, Demo Akbar di Bekasi Dibatalkan”, Voice of al-
worship has the requisite number of members but fails to get Islam, 14 June 2010, www.voa-islam.com/news/indonesia/
community support, the district head or mayor is obliged to 2010/06/14/7088/walikota-setujui-tuntutan-umat-islamdemo-
help find another site (Section IV, Article 14). A permit can akbar-di-bekasi-dibatalkan/.
still be held up if the FKUB questions the validity of the signa- Ibid.
tures or believes that going ahead with construction will cause Crisis Group interview, HKBP official, 11 November 2010.
security problems. “Dijaga Aparat Ibadah HKBP PTI Tetap Hikmat”, Radar
Crisis Group interview, senior Bekasi official, 15 November Bekasi, 12 July 2010. The letter was No. 460/1529.Kessos/
2010. VI/2010.
Indonesia: “Christianisation” and Intolerance
Crisis Group Asia Briefing N°114, 24 November 2010 Page 12

The next Sunday, the land became the new target of On 24 September, the congregation chose one of the
Islamist attacks on the grounds that whatever the letter plots, and the crisis seemed to ease but without real reso-
said, the fact remained that the congregation had no permit lution.84 HKBP wanted a letter of guarantee that a perma-
and had not received the support of the community.78 On nent church, with full permit, could be erected on the plot
8 August, when members arrived for services, they found within six months. Not only has there been no guarantee,
hundreds of members of FUI, FPI and others blocking but the congregation as of this writing had not been able
their entrance to the site. Some 500 police sent to guard to meet the mayor to discuss it.85
the services made no effort to disperse the protestors and
while HKBP claimed some of its members were beaten, The Islamists, however, were furious. This was not an
police denied there was any real violence, only mutual attack but a clash in which two sides were involved, na-
pushing and shoving.79 “It is not true there was an attack”, tional FPI leader Habib Rizieq maintained, yet only one
a spokesman said. “What is true is that residents of Ciketing side was penalised.
oppose HKBP holding services here”.80 HKBP members
say police in effect facilitated the protestors.81 Why were two priests who carried pistols and fired
them at residents on 8 August not arrested? Why were
On 14 August, the Bekasi mayor’s office asked the con- two members of the congregation, Purba and Sinaga,
gregation to move to a youth activities building in East who brought knives on 12 September, arrested but
Bekasi to avoid further conflict. Church leaders refused then let go? Why were HKBP members who beat up
on the grounds that it was their constitutional right to and stabbed nine of our brothers not arrested?86
worship wherever they pleased and continued to meet in
the empty lot. A month later on 12 September, real vio- Islamists continue to see the construction of churches
lence erupted when the Islamist protestors, led by FPI, without permits as proof of advancing “Christianisation”
attacked the congregation, beating Pastor Luspita and and believe the Bekasi government’s capitulation in of-
stabbing Asia Sihombing, a church elder. Ten people fering new space when the HKBP congregation could not
were initially arrested and charged with incitement, nine secure local support was a misguided measure that will
young men and Murhali Barda, who acknowledged mobi- only encourage resistance to the 2006 regulation.87
lising his followers via text messages to assemble in
Ciketing.82 Two others, including the man who actually C. DEBATE OVER THE JOINT MINISTERIAL
carried out the stabbing, were arrested on 7 October.83 REGULATION
The violence shocked the nation and generated much
The refusal of local residents to support the congregation
commentary in the mainstream media about increasing
led many in HKBP, rights groups and others to say that
intolerance and narrowing space for freedom of religion.
the 2006 joint ministerial regulation was discriminatory,
It also put pressure on security officials at the highest levels
violated the right to religious freedom and should be re-
to come up with a solution, at least for Bekasi if not for
voked.88 Believers should be able to worship where they
the country at large. On 16 September, the Bekasi city
pleased, they argued, and proportional representation on
government offered two plots of land on which the con-
gregation could build its church, while reiterating that it
could meet in the building in East Bekasi with full police 84
“Saor: HKBP Tulus Terima Opsi Pemkot”, Kompas, 24
protection. On 17 September, the Coordinating Ministry
September 2010. The plot chosen was owned by PT Timah in
for Political, Security and Legal Affairs brought all parties Mustika Sari, Bekasi.
together and pressed HKBP to accept the city’s offer. 85
Crisis Group interview, HKBP official, 11 November 2010.
By this time the mayor was facing corruption charges which
weakened him politically but also may have made him more
susceptible to outside pressure.
“Selalu Bikin Ulah, HKBP Harus Angkat Kaki dari Ciket-
“Bentrok Ciketing Betot Perhatian Gubernur”, Radar Bekasi, ing”, Voice of al-Islam, 24 September 2010, www.voa-
11 August 2010. islam.com/news/indonesia/2010/09/16/10103/selalu-bikin-
“Ada Upaya Sistematis Merusak Toleransi Beragama?”, ulahhkbp-harus-angkat-kaki-dari-ciketing/. There is no evi-
Radar Bekasi, 9 August 2010. dence that any guns were fired or anyone stabbed other than
“Selompok Orang Serang Jemaat HKBP Bekasi”, www. the church elder.
tempointeraktif.com, 8 August 2010. “Indonesia Ingin Dijadikan Negara Kristen”, Voice of al-
Crisis Group interview, HKBP official, 11 November 2010. Islam, 25 October 2010, www.voa-islam.com/lintasberita/
“Untuk Umat Islam Saya Rela Dipenjara”, op. cit., p. 36. suaraislam/2010/09/29/10475/indonesia-ingin-dijadikan-
“Polisi Ringkus Dua Pelaku Utama Kasus HKBP”, Radar negara-kristen/.
Bekasi, 9 October 2010. They were Adji Ahmad Faisal, 28, of For an analysis of the discriminatory content, see “Mengenali
Rawalumbu, Bekasi and Supriyanto, 25, of Cililitan, Jakarta Lokus Diskriminasi dalam PBM Dua Menteri”, Setara Institute
Timur. [a human rights organisation], 23 September 2010.
Indonesia: “Christianisation” and Intolerance
Crisis Group Asia Briefing N°114, 24 November 2010 Page 13

the religious harmony forums ensured that the majority V. THE BEKASI ISLAMISTS
could always block minorities. Islamist groups interpreted
these calls as proof that Christians were aiming to get the
regulation revoked so they could engage in an unbridled As in many other areas of Indonesia, hardline Islamic or-
church-building spree.89 ganisations in Bekasi claim to speak for all Muslims
when in fact they do not. One test is whether Indonesia’s
Some Christian leaders warned against hasty action, saying two largest mass Islamic organisations, Nahdlatul Ulama
in the current climate, a discriminatory regulation might and Muhammadiyah, are willing to go along with their
be better than none at all, because at least there were clear declarations and rallies and generally they are not.94 The
requirements. If local officials blocked permits, the Bekasi mayor noted that the Islamists’ “Bekasi Muslim
churches could take legal action and have a chance of Congress” on 20 June drew a few hundred people, while
success. If there were no regulation, communities where an NU-led prayer rally in November in support of the vic-
hardliners were active could simply block church con- tims of a volcanic eruption drew some 20,000 to a local
struction with no further recourse available.90 The 2006 stadium.95
regulation, while flawed, was better than the one it replaced;
what was needed was more transparent and consistent Bekasi’s Islamists seem to have a strong popular base,
enforcement.91 however. They differ on a range of issues but fighting
“Christianisation” is something all can agree on – and
It is also worth noting that several non-Muslim communi- nothing can unite them faster than a perceived insult to
ties worried about the influx of Muslim migrants backed or attack on Islam, hence the danger of a group like
the requirement that houses of worship have strong com- Yayasan Mahanaim. The core group of Islamists – those
munity support. A Catholic involved in consultations be- involved in the 9 May tabligh akbar; the 14 May demon-
tween religious leaders and the two ministries as the 2006 stration; various meetings with the mayor and deputy
regulation was being drafted said that initially the number mayor over Mahanaim, the “Tiga Mojang” statue and
of signatures was going to be much lower than what emerged HKBP; and a 20 June meeting of the self-styled “Kongres
in the final version. Balinese Hindus and Protestant Papu- Umat Islam Bekasi” – includes the following:
ans were among the most adamant in support of a higher
figure.92  Dewan Dakwah Islamiyah Indonesia (DDII). One of
the most influential organisations in Bekasi and a
In the aftermath of the HKBP violence, several members driving force behind much of the anti-Christian rheto-
of parliament suggested perhaps it would be better to re- ric, it is led in Bekasi by KH Ahmad Salimin Dani.
examine a religious harmony bill (RUU Kerukunan Hidup Founded in 1967 by the deeply respected scholar,
Beragama) that was quietly shelved in 2005 after several politician and former prime minister Mohammad
years’ discussion. An early version of the controversial Natsir, the organisation traditionally has had close ties
bill came close to banning interfaith marriages and pro- to Saudi Arabia. Some but not all of its members are
hibited adherents of one religion from taking part in wor- salafi and a few are inclined toward salafi jihadism.96
ship activities of another. “We don’t need the religious The head of the municipal religious harmony forum,
harmony law”, one Christian leader said. “What we need Badruzzaman Bustairi, is a former DDII official.
is a freedom of religion law that reinforces our constitu-
 KOMPAK. The area of Pakayon, Bekasi has been a
tional rights”.93 A new version of the former, however, is
KOMPAK stronghold since 1999-2000, in part be-
reported to be on the Indonesian parliament’s legislative
cause many DDII leaders who could provide guidance
agenda for 2011.
to young KOMPAK activists lived there. Two such
figures were Mohammed Dahlan, a leader of Natsir’s
generation and a wealthy donor to DDII, and Firdaus
89 alias Nyong Ali, a Darul Islam veteran of Afghanistan.
“Untuk Umat Islam Saya Rela Dipenjara”, op. cit., p. 37.
Crisis Group interview, Indonesian Communion of Churches
The KOMPAK activists they worked with included
(PGI) official, Jakarta, 17 September 2010. Dahlan’s son, Salman alias Apud, who runs VOA-Islam
The 2006 regulation replaced Joint Ministerial Decree No. and whose house in Bekasi has become a gathering
1/1969 on Government Implementation to Guarantee the place for ex-KOMPAK radicals.
Smooth and Orderly Development of Religions and Religious
Worship by Their Adherents (Pelaksanaan Tugas Aparatur
Pemerintahan dalam Menjamin Ketertiban dan Kelancaran
Pelaksanaan Pengembangan dan Ibadat Agama oleh Pemeluk- Crisis Group interview, NU leader, Bekasi, 5 November 2010.
Pemeluknya, SKB No. 1/1969), 13 September 1969. Crisis Group interview, Mochtar Mohamad, Jakarta, 15 No-
Crisis Group interview, Jakarta, 15 November 2010. vember 2010.
93 96
Crisis Group interview, PGI official, Jakarta, 17 September DDII is the parent organisation of KOMPAK, whose
2010. members have been sometimes involved in terrorist activities.
Indonesia: “Christianisation” and Intolerance
Crisis Group Asia Briefing N°114, 24 November 2010 Page 14

 Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT). JAT leader Abu 2010, sometimes on the same stage with Abu Bakar
Bakar Ba’asyir frequently came to Bekasi before his Ba’asyir.
August 2010 arrest; the organisation was formally
inaugurated in Bekasi on 17 September 2008 and has  Garda Umat Islam Bekasi (GAMIS), a coalition
an extensive presence there. Its mudiriyah or regional formed in 2007 to support one of the candidates for
office in Bekasi came under scrutiny when Haryadi Bekasi mayor, who lost. GAMIS’s commander (pan-
Usman, a member, was arrested on terrorism charges glima), KH Sulaiman Zachawerus, heads the religious
on suspicions of helping finance the Aceh training harmony forum for Bekasi district, is a member of the
camp discovered in February 2010. Bekasi ulama council, and like Murhali Barda, ap-
pears regularly on Radio Dakta. Sulaiman, who was
 Forum Umat Islam (FUI). A coalition that was once an active fundraiser during the Ambon conflict (1999-
close to Hizb ut-Tahrir Indonesia, it is led by Mu- 2002) founded Brigade Ababil, an anti-Christian mili-
hammad Al-Khaththat who was expelled from Hizb tia, in 2002 to defend Islam against apostates like the
ut-Tahrir in late 2008. FUI has become one of the convert Edhie Sapto. His Ababil troops were accused
country’s most effective conservative advocacy organi- of attacking Edhie Sapto’s house and the office of
sations.97 Al-Khaththat is also the founder of Hizbut Yayasan Kaki Dian Emas in 2002.100
Dakwah Indonesia, a splinter of Hizb ut-Tahrir, that
like the latter works for the restoration of the caliphate.  Kongres Umat Islam Bekasi. H. Shalih Mangara Si-
The deputy head of FUI Bekasi and member of the tompul, the secretary-general, is head of the Bar Asso-
executive council of Hizbut Dakwah is Bernard Abdul ciation (PERADI) of Bekasi and a member of the
Jabbar, a convert from Christianity and one of the most Muslim Defenders Team (Tim Pembela Muslim), which
vocal alarmists about the perils of “Christianisation”. provides legal counselling to those arrested for crimes
carried out in the name of Islam, including terrorism.
 Front Pembela Islam (FPI), led in Bekasi by KH
Murhali Barda. After his arrest for involvement in the  Persatuan Islam (PERSIS). A West Java-based organi-
12 September violence against HKBP, Murhali was sation dating back to the 1920s, its members are
temporarily suspended by FPI, pending the outcome largely salafi, and while the organisation as a whole is
of his trial. He claims to be preaching among crimi- completely respectable, a few of its members have
nals in Jakarta police detention.98 His energetic young flirted with terrorism. Imam Samudra, the Bali bomber,
troops are frequently joined in operations by fellow came from a PERSIS background.
FPI members from outside the city. Before his arrest,  Khilafatul Muslimin. Bekasi until recently was a
Murhali was a regular commentator on Islamic lifestyle stronghold of this pro-caliphate organisation founded
issues on Radio Dakta. He flirted with JAT, perhaps by Abdul Qadir Baraja, a long-term associate of Abu
even briefly becoming a member, but reportedly pre- Bakar Ba’asyir. A non-violent group, it attracted a
ferred the higher profile actions of FPI. number of former JI members disillusioned with their
 Front Anti-Pemurtadan Bekasi (FAPB). This coali- own organisation or anxious to distance themselves
tion, led by Cairo-trained Ust. Abu al-’Izz, includes from it after the 2002 Bali bombs. Founded in 1997 in
FUI and FPI. Together with its student wing, Gerakan Lampung, activities in Bekasi were led by Ustad H.
Pelajar Anti-Pemurtadan, it has collaborated with JAT Majelis until his death a few years ago.101
Bekasi on various programs.99  Islamic Centre Al-Islam in Kampung Sawah, Pondok
 Gerakan Pemuda Islam (GPI), a militant youth or- Melati, Bekasi.102 The Al-Islam Centre, run by Farid
ganisation, prides itself on having given rise to the Ukbah, a salafi cleric and Afghan veteran who once
Hizbullah militia during the Indonesian revolution, had close ties to JI, frequently hosts radical clerics in-
some of whose battles were fought in the Bekasi area. cluding Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, before his arrest, and
The grand old man of GPI today is Abdul Qadir Djae- Abu Jibriel of the Indonesian Mujahidin Council, who
lani. He frequently appeared as a speaker in Bekasi in lives nearby. Farid Ukbah has become a leading voice
on the dangers of Shiism, Christianity and various
“deviant” sects.

97 100
Al-Khaththat is secretary-general, not head of FUI but he is a Crisis Group interview, Muslim activist, Jakarta, 12 No-
founder and the driving force behind it. vember 2010.
98 101
“Untuk Umat Islam Saya Rela Dipenjara”, op. cit., p. 37. For their founding statement see http://khilafatulmuslim
On 10 October 2010, for example, they organised a joint inbekasi.wordpress.com/2008/06/17/maklumat/.
program at the al-Hikmah mosque with al-’Izz as the speaker Not to be confused with the mainstream Islamic Centre on
on “Principles of Practicing Islam”. The program was advertised Jl. Ahmad Yani, Bekasi, a place that serves the broader Bekasi
on Radio Dakta. community.
Indonesia: “Christianisation” and Intolerance
Crisis Group Asia Briefing N°114, 24 November 2010 Page 15

Other Islamist groups include Gabungan Remaja Islam the practices of the Prophet and his companions in the
(GARIS), led by Maulana al-Hamdani and Harakah Sun- seventh century, the former believe that jihadis have de-
niyah untuk Masyarakat Islami (HASMI), a salafi group. viated from that path by introducing new forms of politi-
cal organisation and advocating overthrow of Muslim
As Crisis Group has noted elsewhere, several of these rulers. Loyal to Saudi government-sanctioned ulama, they
groups, particularly FUI, have become adept at using civil see Osama bin Laden, hero of the jihadis, as a heretic. In
society advocacy techniques to advance a policy agenda.103 Indonesia, some of the harshest diatribes against the
Advocacy against “Christianisation” in particular is help- jihadis have been written by salafis.
ing paper over some of the longstanding fault lines
among hardliners. In Bekasi, however, the drive for unity to fight “Chris-
tianisation” has brought leading salafi and salafi jihadi
scholars to the same platform, as in the 9 May tabligh akbar.
A. DIFFERENCES AMONG THE HARDLINERS This leads to the question: can the fear, real or exploited,
of “Christianisation” become a new driver for jihadi re-
Despite some efforts to tar all Islamists with the same
cruitment among hitherto non-jihadi activists?
brush, there have always been major differences of ideol-
ogy and tactics among them. The FPI and other extreme
moralists, for example, reject terrorism and have never B. “CHRISTIANISATION” AS A RECRUITMENT
used firearms or bombs; their weapons of choice are THEME
sticks and clubs, better for intimidation and bashing up
property than for inflicting serious injury. The FPI’s tra- The answer is probably yes. The issue resonates with po-
ditionally close relationship with the security forces has tential recruits far more immediately than the sufferings
led the jihadis to view them askance, and there have only of Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan or Palestine. At the same
been a few instances of overt cooperation.104 time, jihadis can put “Christianisation” in the framework
of a global Christian-Zionist plot to weaken Islam: “All
A major feud is underway at present, as Sofyan Tsauri, oppression suffered by Muslims in Indonesia and the rest
the ex-police officer who played a key role in selecting of the world is the fruit of a conspiracy of Western Chris-
Aceh as the base for the alliance that became known as tian colonialists and their local puppets”.107 The long-
al-Qaeda in Aceh and securing guns for training, accused standing hardline claim that Detachment 88, the counter-
Yusuf Qardhawi, the Acehnese FPI leader, of falsely saying terror unit of the Indonesian police, is dominated by
he worked for intelligence. He challenged Yusuf to a Christians means that a stepped-up jihadi campaign against
mubahalah, a debate where the loser is expected to be the police can also fit into this framework.
struck down by Allah. Yusuf reportedly accepted the
challenge but the confrontation has not taken place.105 In In late 2009, some of the participants in a terrorist training
Bekasi, however, at least two jihadi organisations, KOM- camp in Aceh were persuaded to join and support attacks
PAK and JAT, have had relatively smooth relations with on foreign aid workers because the latter were perceived
their FPI counterparts. to be trying to convert Acehnese:

Another longstanding division has been between salafis, The goal of the training camp was to have each par-
many of them Saudi-influenced or funded, and salafi ticipant be physically fit, understand the strategy of
jihadis.106 While both are ultra-puritan and try to emulate war and be able to use firearms, so as to be able to attack
infidels or non-Muslims who were engaged in “Chris-
tianisation” or bringing liberal thinking to the Muslim
103 community in Aceh, and to destroy churches in Aceh
Crisis Group Briefing, Indonesia: Implications of the
Ahmadiyah Decree, op. cit. and obstruct plans to increase construction of churches
One was in 2005, when Said Sungkar, the head of the reli- there.108
gious advisory council of FPI Pekalongan in Central Java,
persuaded two colleagues to help hide fugitive bomber Noordin
M Top. Another was when ex-JI member Dulmatin and others
involved in the Aceh training camp recruited FPI members “Akar ‘Terorisme’ dan Konspirasi Kristen di Indonesia”, An-
from Aceh, initially on the pretext of training them to go to Najah, 30 September 2010 (The original reads “Semua kez-
Palestine. haliman yang menimpa umat Islam di Indonesia dan seluruh
Yusuf did, however, make a tense visit to Sofyan Tsauri in dunia merupakan buah konspirasi penjajah Barat yang Kristen
prison in early October. See “FPI Siap Hadapi Sofyan Tsauri”, dengan boneka lokalnya”.)
www.arrahmah.com, 6 October 2010. Surat Dakwaan No. REG.PERK:PDM-1363/JKT/BRT/07/
See Crisis Group Asia Report N°83, Indonesia Backgrounder: 2010 atas Nama Terdakwa: 1) Syailendra Adi Sapta als. Ismet
Why Salafism and Terrorism Mostly Do Not Mix, 13 September Hakiki als. Abu Jais als. Abu Mujahid bin Muhammad Robert
2004. Bakrie; 2) Zainal Mutaqim als. Zaki Rahmatullah als. Abu Zaid
Indonesia: “Christianisation” and Intolerance
Crisis Group Asia Briefing N°114, 24 November 2010 Page 16

A case involving Edhie Sapto is more evidence that In 2007 and 2008, members of a militant Darul Islam fac-
“Christianisation” works as an incentive for recruitment. tion were regularly meeting in Bekasi to deepen their
As noted above, Edhie is the Muslim convert who uses religious knowledge by studying with Farid Ukbah at the
techniques learned in a pesantren to attract Muslims. al-Islam Mosque, and some of their members are proba-
His organisation, formerly Yayasan Kaki Dian now bly still active.112 This group, like KOMPAK, thrived on
Yayasan Bethmidrash Talmiddin, has been run since its the conflicts in Ambon and Poso and sought training in
founding from his home in the Galaxi housing complex in Mindanao in order to be able to send top fighters there. It
south Bekasi. On 3 May 2002, a young Muslim report- was communal conflict that drew these groups into a
edly escaped from the house where he said he was being broader commitment to jihad.
held against his will. In response, the house was raided by
a team consisting of Front Bersama Umat Islam (FBUI), a Bekasi has no shortage of salafi jihadis and mobilisation
short-lived coalition; the Indonesian Ulama Council; of Islamists around the issue of “Christianisation” has
FAKTA, the anti-apostasy organisation; Brigade Ababil, created a potentially large recruiting pool of youths in
led by Bekasi leader KH Sulaiman Zachawerus and the non-violent advocacy organisations. The jihadi movement
police. Edhie was brought to the Bekasi police station and may be weak and divided in Indonesia these days, but unless
reprimanded but not charged. there is more systemic attention to reducing Christian-
Muslim tensions, it could be given a new lease on life.
About a year later, Edhie succeeded in converting Yosua
Adhie (Yosua Winadi), a Muslim from Lamongan, East One task for the prevention and counter-radicalisation
Java. Yosua eventually became head of the Integrated division of Indonesia’s new anti-terror agency (Badan
Bible Training School and editor of the organisation’s Nasional Penanggulangan Terorisme, BNPT) might be to
magazine, Midrash Talmiddim, which recounts successful encourage reporting from regions on areas of serious
conversions.109 communal tensions; have a local academic team map the
key players and document the recent history of extremist
In 2006 when several members of the FAKTA branch in activity in the area; then work with community leaders to
Palembang, who had joined a religious study group led by design projects to ease the tension and marginalise the
a JI fugitive, agreed on a project to murder a few men radicals. Easier said than done, but Bekasi would be a
they saw as responsible for “Christianisation”, Yosua was good place for a pilot project.
high on the list. It was probably not a coincidence that the
man who volunteered to lead the death squad, Sulton
Qolbi alias Arsyad, a Madura-born KOMPAK leader, had VI. A NEW STRATEGY TO STRENGTHEN
lived for a few years in Bekasi. While the attempted mur- RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE
der of Yosua was unsuccessful, the important point is that
the group went on to ally with the now dead terrorist,
Noordin Top.110 The lesson is clear: violent and non- The policy choices are never easy when religion is in-
violent radicals can find common ground in anti-apostasy volved, but absence of a policy can be worse. Credible
activities. public opinion surveys indicate that religious tolerance in
Indonesia is slowly decreasing, as measured by the un-
The murder attempt generated much sympathy for Sultan willingness of Muslims to have churches built in their
Qolbi in Bekasi. According to Sulaiman Zachawerus, neighbourhoods or their children taught by non-Muslim
now head of the Bekasi district FKUB: “In terms of posi- teachers.113 Hostility of Christians in Christian-majority
tive law, what Arsyad did is an anarchic activity that can- areas of eastern Indonesia such as Papua towards mosque
not be approved. But in the eyes of Islam, it cannot be

als. Fandi Ahmad bin Mahfud; 3) Sunakim als Afif als. Nakim These included Rusli Mardani alias Uci, now imprisoned in
bin Jenab; 3) Herul Lianto als. Abu Zahroh bin Kaman, Jakarta, Ambon for illegal gun possession. See interrogation deposition
1 July 2010. of Uci, 24 October 2008.
109 113
Yosua personally claimed 50 in 2004 alone. Midrash Between 2008 and 2010, the percentage of Muslims unwill-
Talmiddim, March 2006, p. 15, quoted in “Edhie Sapto Weda, ing to have a church built in their neighbourhood rose from
Pendeta Radikal Mantan Pembunuh”, http://muslimcreative. 51.4 to 57.8 per cent; the share of those unwilling to have a
wordpress.com, 18 August 2008. non-Muslim teach their children rose from 21.4 to 27.6 per
Crisis Group Briefing, Indonesia: Radicalisation of the cent. These figures have steadily increased since polling began
“Palembang Group”, op. cit. in 2000 by the Centre for the Study of Islam and Society at the
“Edhie Sapto Weda, Pendeta Radikal Mantan Pembunuh”, State Islamic University in Jakarta. See “Toleransi Beragama
op. cit. Kian Rendah”, Media Indonesia, 29 September 2010.
Indonesia: “Christianisation” and Intolerance
Crisis Group Asia Briefing N°114, 24 November 2010 Page 17

construction would probably be similar. Attacks on The government also needs to develop clear guidelines
churches have also increased.114 for what constitutes a “disturbance of public order”. Surely
any acts to forcibly prevent meetings or worship should
Under such circumstances, the government’s first recourse count, even more so when violence is threatened, let alone
should be the law, but not only its letter – its spirit as used. At the moment, the tendency is to blame the reli-
well. The preamble to the 2006 regulation reaffirms that, gious group that attracts mob action – the beleaguered
among other things: Ahmadiyah sect has been particularly cast as the trouble-
maker: if it did not have deviant views, according to the
 the right to follow a religion is a basic human right religious affairs minister, it would not come under attack.117
that cannot be diluted under any circumstance;
At the same time, officials at all levels should avoid ap-
 everyone is free to choose a religion and worship ac-
pearing to endorse religious vigilantism, exemplified by
cording to its tenets;
the FPI. Yet not only have the governor of Jakarta, the
 the state guarantees freedom of every resident to prac- newly appointed national police commander and the reli-
tice his or her religion and to worship accordingly; gious affairs minister all appeared at FPI events, but the
new police chief appeared to welcome FPI as a partner in
 the government has an obligation to protect efforts by maintaining law and order in Jakarta.118 Taking on allies
its people to implement religious teachings as long as known for their intolerance is not the way to inculcate re-
they are not in conflict with existing regulations and ligious harmony.
laws, do not abuse or slander religion and do not disturb
security and public order; and Governments at all levels also need to have a common
understanding of what constitutes “incitement”, in a way
 the government has the duty to provide guidance to
that does not unduly restrict freedom of expression but
ensure that the implementation of religious teachings
penalises potentially dangerous actions, including through
proceeds harmoniously, smoothly and in an orderly
mobile phone texting. It would be helpful to have human
rights lawyers sit down with religious leaders, police and
Article 1 defines religious harmony as “communication officials from the ministries of religion and justice and try
among religions based on tolerance, mutual understanding, to hammer out when hate speech crosses the line into in-
mutual respect, valuing equality in the practice of reli- citement to crime.
gious teachings and cooperation in the life of the people,
nation and state within the Unitary State of the Republic The 2006 regulation has a problematic provision, rein-
of Indonesia based on Pancasila and the Indonesian Con- forced strongly in the Bekasi implementing decree, that
stitution of 1945”.116 one role of the religious harmony forums should be to
“take on the aspirations of mass religious organisations”.
Tolerance and mutual respect are the values that seem to be The wording is ambiguous: “take on” (menampung) can
in decline, and the provision about not disturbing public mean “consider” or “try to satisfy”. The problem arises
order is routinely violated by religious vigilantes like FPI. when Islamist groups, claiming to represent the masses,
Governments at the national and local levels need to take demand actions that run counter to promoting tolerance
a more pro-active role toward promoting tolerance, per- and mutual respect. It is important for government to en-
haps working with the National Broadcasting Commis- courage responsiveness to civil society, but when civil
sion to encourage religious radio stations like Radio society groups themselves try to impose a single view of
Dakta not only to not preach hatred but to actively pro- religious truth, responding positively can create new
mote respect for other religions. The same should be done problems.
for elementary school textbooks, and it should be a re-
quirement for any school receiving government assistance The government should decide whether to enforce the
to ensure that a module on respect for all religions is built 1978 Guidelines on Disseminating Religion, a decree
into the curriculum. from the Ministry of Religion which states that proselyti-
sation or other forms of religious outreach can only take
place among individuals who are already members of that

See statistics in “Where is Our Place of Worship?”, Setara
Institute, 26 July 2010. See, for example, interview with Minister of Religious Af-
First five of eleven preambular articles of Joint Regulation fairs Suryadharma Ali, “Mengatur Indonesia Tidak Perlu
of Ministries of Religious Affairs and Home Affairs in Pedo- Menanggalkan Islam”, Suara Islam, 19 November 2010.
man Kerukunan Hidup Beragama, published by the Forum for “Sole candidate wants to ‘embrace’ FPI”, Jakarta Post, 7
Religious Harmony, Bekasi city, December 2009. October 2010; and “Fauzi, police chief hobnob with FPI”,
Ibid. Jakarta Post, 8 August 2010.
Indonesia: “Christianisation” and Intolerance
Crisis Group Asia Briefing N°114, 24 November 2010 Page 18

religion. That would seem to ban efforts to convert Mus-

lims to Christianity or Christians to Islam (conversion
itself is perfectly legal as an individual decision), but the
guidelines merely say that any action not in line with the
decree that disrupts religious harmony will be dealt with
according to existing law. In practice, the decree has been
largely ignored by both Christians and Muslims. Groups
like Yayasan Mahanaim proselytise in Muslim communi-
ties, outraging many local Muslims, but Middle Eastern-
funded Islamic groups like the Revival of Islamic Heritage
Society (known in Indonesia as at-Turots) make a point
of undertaking dakwah in Christian-majority areas of
Indonesia, including Nusa Tenggara Timur and North Su-
lawesi. There are also active dakwah programs in the cen-
tral highlands of Papua. If the government decides to
clamp down, it will have to be even-handed.

All of this suggests that Indonesia badly needs a strategy

on religious tolerance, and if the executive branch cannot
produce one, it should consider setting up a national
agency or taskforce that would both underscore the gov-
ernment’s commitment to uphold an important national
value and work out policies on the issues described above.
The problem is that if setting national policy on these
issues is left to any of the existing ministries, such as the
Ministry of Religious Affairs or the Ministry of Educa-
tion, entrenched bureaucratic interests are likely to take
over. Left to an NGO or NGO coalition, however expert,
influence over policy-making will be minimal. An inde-
pendent body set up with presidential and parliamentary
support and given a robust mandate and adequate resources
would have a better chance of having its ideas accepted.

The government should not simply dig out the discarded

religious harmony bill from a few years ago and tack on a
few new provisions. Protecting religious freedom and
teaching tolerance require serious thought from committed
scholars and practitioners and a set of policies that can be
implemented fairly and equitably across the country. Re-
ligious intolerance is one problem that cannot be allowed
to fester.
Jakarta/Brussels, 24 November 2010
Indonesia: “Christianisation” and Intolerance
Crisis Group Asia Briefing N°114, 24 November 2010 Page 19


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