INDONESIA (ANS) -- Acts of violence and intolerance against Christians in Indonesia almost doubled in 2011, with an Islamist campaign to close down churches symbolizing the plight of the religious minority.
Compass Direct News (CDN) says the Indonesian Protestant Church Union, locally known as PGI, counted 54 acts of violence and other violations against Christians in 2011, up from 30 in 2010.
The number of such incidents against religious minorities in general also grew, from 198 in 2010 to 276 in 2011, but the worst is perhaps yet to come if authorities continue to overlook the threat of extremism, said a representative from the Jakarta-based Wahid Institute, a Muslim organization that promotes tolerance.
CDN reports that Rumadi, who goes by a single name, said his Wahid Institute also observed an attempt to institutionalize intolerance; at least 36 regulations to ban religious practices deemed deviant from Islam were drafted or implemented in the country in 2011.
According to the report, Indonesia's hot-bed of extremism is West Java, the most populous province that includes the nation's capital city of Jakarta. This province alone witnessed 160 incidents against religious minorities.
Churches in West Java, which has about 520,000 Christians, also suffered the most last year. On Christmas Day, two churches in West Java's Bogor city bore the brunt of growing extremism.
"Islamist vigilantes screamed and yelled at us and threatened us, as we sought to hold a Christmas service," a leader of the Gereja Kristen Indonesia, also known as the GKI or the Yasmin Church, told Compass in an email.