Christians are increasingly persecuted in places like Indonesia


U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence met with Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla on May 18 to discuss, in part, ways to improve the plight of Christians in that most populous of Islamic countries.

The meeting came in the aftermath of the recent ISIS-inspired terrorist attacks on Indonesian Christian churches. Pence praised Indonesia’s moderate Islamic culture, despite the fact that Indonesia is becoming increasingly radicalized.

It seems that Far Eastern nations, such as Malaysia and Indonesia, are no longer insulated from the extremist wave that has swept across Islamic nations in recent decades. A conservative Islamist, Aneis Baswedan, recently became governor of Jakarta, replacing the former Christian governor known as Ahok. The latter has been charged with blasphemy for allegedly mocking Quranic verses.

This radicalism is not confined to politics; it is also turning violent. An emerging trend there appears to be entire families becoming terror cells. The latest attack was by a husband and wife, along with their two teenage sons and two younger daughters. The mother and her daughters detonated the bombs in one church while the teenage boys attacked another church and the father targeted a third. As a result of the attacks, 12 people were killed and 41 reportedly injured.

Another family of suicide bombers also injured 10 people one day later. According to reports, all the parents belonged to an ISIS-inspired group called Jamaah Ansharut Daulah. All of the six suicide bombers died in the attacks.

This is tragic on multiple levels. The children, who were obviously brainwashed, were robbed of the chance to make their own decisions and lead a normal life. So far, little seems to have been done at the societal and ideological level to eradicate the curse of terrorism. In fact, the opposite is true.

Indonesia seems bustling with radical preachers who wish death upon Christians and other religious minorities – and this in a country that has until now boasted of a pluralistic tradition as the largest Muslim democracy. Radical groups have emerged as a result of a new-found puritanical Islamism that seeks to wipe out all that it sees as un-Islamic.

As for the parents of these radicalized families, they are no doubt convinced they are doing their children the greatest favour by forcing them into jihad. They are governed by the belief that they will go straight to a blessed afterlife after performing jihad.

Children are, of course, in no position to challenge what their parents preach to them. By contrast, the innocent Christian worshippers who lost their lives to such deranged violence in the name of Islam will forever be mourned by their families.

Indonesia is not the only place where Christians are being persecuted. Pakistan has seen a number of attacks on churches by radicals.

Western nations need to open their doors more to Christian minorities in countries with extremists who want to kill them. This would be helpful to Christians in Syria and other parts of the war-torn Middle East.

Such an action would be similar to what Israel did for Jews in Ethiopia and other lands where they were at risk of being persecuted.

Indonesia itself needs to offer robust safeguards to Christians, and it must also look inward to safeguard its own children from this new kind of terrifying sacrifice.

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