Indonesia's president accused of indulgence with religious violence
Jakarta, June 9.─ May was a cruel month for Indonesians trying to do nothing more than worship their god. During an Ascension Day service on May 17th (and again on May 20th), about 100 Protestants were attacked by a Muslim mob at their church in Bekasi on the outskirts of the capital, Jakarta. The mob hurled stones, bags of urine and death threats at the congregation. The church was still only half-built when it was attacked; the pastor has been waiting more than five years for permission from the local district administration to complete it. Since May 2nd local government officials in the ultra-conservative Muslim province of Aceh, in northern Sumatra, have closed at least 16 Christian churches.
Such intimidation, and the ongoing rows over permits, are now so commonplace that they are barely reported. On May 26th, however, the issue of religious intolerance in this Muslim-majority nation made international headlines when Islamic hardliners forced the cancellation of a sold-out concert by Lady Gaga, an American pop star. The Islamic Defenders Front (known by its initials in Indonesian, FPI) had threatened to provoke "chaos" if she entered the country. Her promoters said that they could not guarantee her, or her fans', safety. They were probably right.