In the city of Bekasi, Indonesia, outside Jakarta, a handful of Christians head to Sunday worship. But before they can reach their destination, they are stopped and surrounded by a large crowd of local Muslims who jeer at them and demand that they leave.
This is the Filadelfia congregation, a Lutheran group. They are ethnic Bataks from the neighboring island of Sumatra who have migrated to Bekasi, and they have been blocked from holding services on several occasions. Recently, a journalist who demonstrated in support of the congregation was beaten by an angry mob.
Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim majority nation and has drawn praise for its evolution into a vibrant democracy. It’s a country of more than 17,000 islands, with more than 300 ethnic groups who speak about 740 languages. But recent cases of persecution of religious minorities have led some to question whether Indonesia is still living up to its reputation for pluralism and tolerance.