Indonesian Christian churches targeted in Islamist suicide bomb attacks

 Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, was the scene of three terrorist attacks on Christian churches that killed at least 11 people and injured more than 40.

The attacks were well coordinated, occurring within 10 minutes of each other. One of the attacks was carried out by a woman who apparently involved her two small children.

Guardian:

“I heard two explosions, one was in the church’s parking lot and the other was outside the church. The woman was with two little boys,” Johanes, a member of the GKI congregation, told Kompas TV.

The Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, and the national police chief, Tito Karnarvian, visited Surabaya on Sunday. At a news briefing, Widodo confirmed that two children had been used in the bombing, and condemned the “barbaric” attacks.

“I have instructed police to look into and break up networks of perpetrators,” said Widodo.

The blasts occurred within 10 minutes of each other, police said, with the first explosion at 7.30am (0030 GMT).

Indonesian police cordoned off the sites for investigation, and have not yet confirmed the identity of the attackers.

A video of one of the attacks appeared on Twitter:

Indonesian intelligence place responsibility for the attacks on  the Isis-inspired group Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD). Their leader,  Aman Abdurrahman, is said to have ordered the 2016 Sarinah attack in Jakarta, which killed eight people.

There may be a connection between the church bombings and a prison uprising last week:

Sunday’s attacks follow a deadly prison riot at a maximum-security detention facility in West Java last week, when Islamist inmates killed five officers after taking them hostage and controlled three prison blocks for 40 hours.

The church attacks were likely linked to the prison hostage standoff, said Wawan Purwanto, the communication director at Indonesia’s intelligence agency.

“The main target is still security authorities, but we can say that there are alternative [targets] if the main targets are blocked,” he said.

News of the riot at the Mako Brimob detention centre has reverberated through jihadist networks, said Todd Elliot, a Jakarta-based security analyst from Concord Consulting.

“Whatever happened in Mako Brimob has certainly reinvigorated domestic militants. Online jihadi social media has been abuzz in the last couple of days with celebratory messages and calls for more attacks,” said Elliot.

The Indonesian government has always made a point of claiming that theirs is a "moderate" Islamic country, tolerant of other religions. 

“Pluralism has always been a part of Indonesia’s DNA,” Joko Widodo told Reuters in an interview at the presidential palace in Jakarta. “Despite many challenges, Islam in Indonesia has always been a force for moderation.”

Indonesia’s state ideology includes national unity, social justice and democracy alongside belief in God, and enshrines religious diversity in a secular system of government.

But we all know it's one thing to "enshrine" religious diversity in law and quite another to actually practice it.

 I have visited Indonesia many times, and on every visit I have seen churches and Ahmadi mosques closed and Ahmadiyya and Shia communities forcibly displaced after their villages have been violently attacked. I have met with representatives of traditional local religions who face discrimination in schools and other public services, and with followers of “Gafatar,” a syncretistic movement blending together teachings of the Abrahamic faiths – Islam, Judaism and Christianity – and banned as “deviant.” Year-on-year, the statistics show, incidents of intolerance have risen; this is not a new phenomenon.

The rise of ISIS-inspired groups has only made the situation for other religions worse. The government may crow about how diverse the country is, but the reality is that the majority Muslim population enforces their own kind of discipline on non-Muslim faiths. And considering yesterday's church bombings, others may be inspired to assault Christians and their churches in the name of Islam.

They don't have to be "extremists" to persecute the Christian minority. 

 

 

 Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, was the scene of three terrorist attacks on Christian churches that killed at least 11 people and injured more than 40.

The attacks were well coordinated, occurring within 10 minutes of each other. One of the attacks was carried out by a woman who apparently involved her two small children.

Guardian:

“I heard two explosions, one was in the church’s parking lot and the other was outside the church. The woman was with two little boys,” Johanes, a member of the GKI congregation, told Kompas TV.

The Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, and the national police chief, Tito Karnarvian, visited Surabaya on Sunday. At a news briefing, Widodo confirmed that two children had been used in the bombing, and condemned the “barbaric” attacks.

“I have instructed police to look into and break up networks of perpetrators,” said Widodo.

The blasts occurred within 10 minutes of each other, police said, with the first explosion at 7.30am (0030 GMT).

Indonesian police cordoned off the sites for investigation, and have not yet confirmed the identity of the attackers.

A video of one of the attacks appeared on Twitter:

Indonesian intelligence place responsibility for the attacks on  the Isis-inspired group Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD). Their leader,  Aman Abdurrahman, is said to have ordered the 2016 Sarinah attack in Jakarta, which killed eight people.

There may be a connection between the church bombings and a prison uprising last week:

Sunday’s attacks follow a deadly prison riot at a maximum-security detention facility in West Java last week, when Islamist inmates killed five officers after taking them hostage and controlled three prison blocks for 40 hours.

The church attacks were likely linked to the prison hostage standoff, said Wawan Purwanto, the communication director at Indonesia’s intelligence agency.

“The main target is still security authorities, but we can say that there are alternative [targets] if the main targets are blocked,” he said.

News of the riot at the Mako Brimob detention centre has reverberated through jihadist networks, said Todd Elliot, a Jakarta-based security analyst from Concord Consulting.

“Whatever happened in Mako Brimob has certainly reinvigorated domestic militants. Online jihadi social media has been abuzz in the last couple of days with celebratory messages and calls for more attacks,” said Elliot.

The Indonesian government has always made a point of claiming that theirs is a "moderate" Islamic country, tolerant of other religions. 

“Pluralism has always been a part of Indonesia’s DNA,” Joko Widodo told Reuters in an interview at the presidential palace in Jakarta. “Despite many challenges, Islam in Indonesia has always been a force for moderation.”

Indonesia’s state ideology includes national unity, social justice and democracy alongside belief in God, and enshrines religious diversity in a secular system of government.

But we all know it's one thing to "enshrine" religious diversity in law and quite another to actually practice it.

 I have visited Indonesia many times, and on every visit I have seen churches and Ahmadi mosques closed and Ahmadiyya and Shia communities forcibly displaced after their villages have been violently attacked. I have met with representatives of traditional local religions who face discrimination in schools and other public services, and with followers of “Gafatar,” a syncretistic movement blending together teachings of the Abrahamic faiths – Islam, Judaism and Christianity – and banned as “deviant.” Year-on-year, the statistics show, incidents of intolerance have risen; this is not a new phenomenon.

The rise of ISIS-inspired groups has only made the situation for other religions worse. The government may crow about how diverse the country is, but the reality is that the majority Muslim population enforces their own kind of discipline on non-Muslim faiths. And considering yesterday's church bombings, others may be inspired to assault Christians and their churches in the name of Islam.

They don't have to be "extremists" to persecute the Christian minority.