The attack is another blow to religious harmony in the Muslim-majority nation

By Katharina R. Lestari


UCA News (14.11.2016) – – A convicted terrorist hurled petrol bombs at a Protestant church in Indonesia on Nov. 13 killing one infant and leaving three others hospitalized with severe burns.


The attacker, a 32-year-old man identified as Johanda, threw several petrol bombs into the parking lot of the Batak Society Christian Church of Oikumene in Samarinda, East Kalimantan province.


Four children playing in the lot were injured and rushed to nearby hospitals. One of them, a two and a half year-old toddler named Intan Olivia Banjarnahor later died on Nov.14.


The attack came after tens of thousands of Islamic hard-liners rallied in Jakarta on Nov.5 calling for the city’s Protestant governor to be jailed for blasphemy, or even put to death. Many now worry the Muslim-majority nation might be turning towards extremism.


According to National Police Chief General Tito Karnavian, the bomber was sentenced in 2012 to three years and six months in prison for his involvement in a plot to blow up the Center for Science and Technology Research. He was released on parole two in 2014.


“The perpetrator has been arrested. Please trust law enforcement officers to uncover his [terrorist] network,” Indonesian language news site, Tempo, quoted him as saying.


Meanwhile, Samarinda Police Chief Setyobudi Dwiputro claimed the attack was the first terrorist act to have taken place in the province, claiming that East Kalimantan was usually a place of religious tolerance.


The blast resonated right to the top of the Indonesian administration. President Joko Widodo tweeted that the attack must be “investigated thoroughly” on Nov.13.


Religious leaders’ response


Reverend Sabar Maringan Manullang from the Batak Society Christian Church in East Kalimantan said he visited the bomb site after the incident. He said that around 100 members of the church attended the Sunday prayer service.


“Some parents brought their children in. But some children refused to come into the church,” he said. “So they were hurt in the bomb attack.… If the pastor had not asked parents to bring their children in, the number of victims would have been higher.”


Holy Family Archbishop Yustinus Harjosusanto of Samarinda said the tense political situation in the country has been hijacked by terrorists. The bomb attack was a “signal” that must be taken seriously, he said.


“Following the bomb attack, all parishes in Samarinda were guarded by security forces during their Sunday afternoon Mass celebrations. Still, local Catholics didn’t feel panicked,” he said.


Reverend Gomar Gultom, general secretary of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia, said that all of Indonesia’s religious leaders needed to spread the message of peace, humanity and nationhood.


“This is why religions came to this earth,” he said.


He also entreated the government to prevent similar incidents from happening.


In another anti-Christian incident in August, Capuchin Father Albertus S. Pandiangan was attacked and injured by Ivan Armadi Hasugian while delivering a sermon during Sunday Mass held at St. Joseph’s Church in Medan, North Sumatra province.

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