Two Killed, 22 Injured in Indonesia Church Bombing

Two people were killed and 22 injured in a bombing of the Bethel Church in Solo, Central Java, Indonesia on September 25 following services. The bomber, reported to be Ahmad Yosepa Hayat, died during the attack. Hayat was among five suspects wanted by police for their involvement in a suicide bombing in Cirebon, West Java in April 2011 that targeted a mosque in a police compound and wounded 28 people.

Indonesia officially recognizes Islam, Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. While the criminal code contains provisions against blasphemy, penalizing those who “distort” or “misrepresent” official faiths, the national government has often failed to respond to religious intolerance in recent years as societal discrimination has increased. In April 2010, the Constitutional Court upheld a law prohibiting blasphemy in an effort to “protect religious harmony” which drew the ire of many civil society groups. Recent developments in Indonesia highlight the failure of the criminal justice system to respond to increasing social hostilities toward minority religions.  Earlier this month, six people died in clashes between Christians and Muslims in Ambon after the circulation of SMS messages claiming that a taxi driver killed in an automotive accident was tortured to death by Christians. Police are currently investigating a possible link between the Ambon incident and Sunday’s bombing. A second brutal mob attack occurred in August 2011 targeting Indonesia’s Ahmadiyya, further proof of a troubling downward spiral in religious freedom.

Freedom House condemns this horrific act and calls for a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the bombing. Additionally, the Indonesian government must step up its efforts to protect its minority faith communities through effective law enforcement, appropriate and unbiased application of the law, and an active role in promoting religious tolerance at all levels.

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