The 7th-century Pact of Umar forbade the construction of new churches or repair of existing ones. The pact is in the spirit of Qur'an 9:29, which commands that non-Muslims "feel themselves subdued" -- a fundamental reason why incidents such as this are neither new nor isolated.
"A thousand Islamic extremists, including women and children, storm a Church near Jakarta," by Mathias Hariyadi for AsiaNews, December 18:
Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Last night a crowd of angry Muslims, including women and children, attacked the Church of Saint Albert, in Bekasi Regency, about 30 kilometres east of Jakarta. The situation is now under control but the local Catholic community is afraid of an escalation before Christmas.
Kurniadi is a member of the committee charged with the church's construction. He told AsiaNews, "Suddenly, a bunch of bikers arrived in the area where the church stands." They had banners and kerosene tanks. "We don't know why we were attacked," he said.
Kristina Maria Renteana, who was present when the Church was attacked, said, "The mob had about a thousand people," not only men, but "women and children" as well.
Running around in cars and motorbikes is a tradition for Indonesian Muslims during "national celebrations."
Last night was the first day of the Islamic New Year, the start of the month of Muharram. Local sources told AsiaNews, on condition of anonymity, that the "crowd was made of people from Tarumajaya and Babelan", two villages in North Bekasi where Islamic extremists are a majority.
Saint Albert's Church, a chapel that is part of Saint Arnold' Church in Bekasi, was not yet finished.
Started on 11 May 2008, it had the required building permit for places of worship and was 80 per cent complete. Workers had finished the walls and the roof. Only ceramic floor tiles had to be laid.
Although not yet finished, it was set to host Christmas Mass for the local Christian community.
Now it is damaged but police and government authorities have urged the parish priest, Fr Joseph Jagadwa, to go ahead with the Mass anyway.
Such atrocities and crimes against humanity are inexcusable, as such intolerance has nothing to do with the heart of God. The people of Indonesia must stand up to the Muslim bigots and terrorists, lest the entire nation of Indonesia loses its credibility in the world.
Moreover President Obama, as a former Indonesian, must boldly speak out against such acts of intolerance and inhumanity.
I have ministered throughout Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago with over 16,000 islands.
For the most part Indonesians are kind and hospitable people. The radical Muslims are few in comparison in the world's fourth most populated country on earth.
Banda Aceh (island of Sumatra) had a history of burning down churches and kicking out any international aid workers who were not Muslim. They had planned to burn churches down on the morning of December 26, 2004 when suddenly the tsunamis hit.
I know this because I worked at the tsunami epicenter where over 200,000 people died and Christians who I spoke with in a church where I ministered near the disaster told me this.
Sumulu island nearby (a predominately Christian island), now known as "miracle island" did not have a single soul perish in the tsunamis.
Surely God will protect His own and they who die as martyrs for Christ to hold true to their witness for Christ (Acts 1:8), shall get a standing ovation and the full attention of Jesus, who shall welcome them into heaven with open arms (Acts 7:51-60).
God is love and they who kill in His Name do not know God (John 16:1-3).
http://www.PaulFDavis.com - author of "God vs. Religion" and worldwide minister