A model of toleration 55

During his  grand progress through East Asia, Obama made a speech in Jakarta, capital of Indonesia, praising that Muslim country – in which he had spent some years of his childhood – for its “toleration”.

When it comes to religious freedom, Indonesia – he would have it known – is the equal of the United States.

Did he speak the truth?

The people of East Timor, most of them Catholics, would not say that he did. In August 1999 they voted in a referendum for independence from Indonesia. No sooner was the result in, than Muslim militias, aided and abetted by the Indonesian authorities, attacked the civilian population, killing well over a thousand and forcing hundreds of thousands to flee into West Timor. The Muslims proceeded to execute a scorched-earth campaign, razing buildings and destroying infrastructure. (East Timor finally achieved independence in 2002.)

Go here to find lists of atrocities, with pictures, inflicted on the Christians of East Timor in 1999 by Muslim militias and Indonesian troops.

The Christians of West Java would also not agree with Obama that Indonesia is remarkable for its toleration.

From the Gates of Vienna:

The sharia authorities in West Java have developed a two-prong strategy to discourage the practice of Christianity. First they knock down a church, which drives the Christian congregation into open-air worship. Then they harass them for praying in the open, because public worship by non-Muslims is against the law. …

Last Monday, police raided a house used for worship by Narogong Pentecostal Church in the village of Limusnunggal, Cileungsi sub-district. … The building was eventually torn down and ten people arrested.

The police “were not neutral in the dispute”, though their presence could have a calming effect.

A group of 500 Islamic extremists blocked Christians from the Huria Protestant Church in a field where the Sunday service was taking place. The incident occurred last July 18 in the city of Pondok Timur in Mustika Jaya subdistrict, district of Bekasi (West Java).

Muslims blocked all routes to prevent Christians leaving the field and began to insult them, terrorizing them. The group of Protestant believers pray outdoors because their hall for religious functions was closed on the grounds that it was illegal.

The situation improved when a representative of the Bekasi Office for Religious Affairs, along with 200 policemen … [The pastor] asked the representative to help [his] congregation to leave the site without harm. …

For years the Christians of Bekasi have been targeted by Islamic fundamentalists. Early in 2010, radical groups blocked religious services, prevented Christians from access to existing churches and stopped the construction of new churches. Since 2009, more than 17 churches have been affected by Islamic extremists. …

The religious authorities have recently intensified their enforcement of strict sharia practices.

And what might the Christians of Sulawesi province say?

There, in October 2005, three Christian girls were walking to school when Muslims seized them and hacked off their heads.

BBC News reported:

Three girls have been beheaded and another badly injured as they walked to a Christian school in Indonesia.

They were walking through a cocoa plantation near the city of Poso in central Sulawesi province when they were attacked. …

Police say the heads were found some distance from the bodies.

Typically stuck on stupid when it comes to reporting  Muslim violence, the BBC commented:

It is unclear what was behind the attack, but the girls attended a private Christian school and one of the heads was left outside a church leading to speculation that it might have had a religious motive.

Sure it might have. Especially considering that –

This is an area that has a long history of religious violence between Muslims and Christians.

Between them? Not violent attacks by Muslims on Christians who defended themselves? How eager are Christians to initiate violent clashes with Muslims in Indonesia?

But  the BBC doesn’t care to find fault with Muslims any more than Obama does.

More than 1,000 people were killed before a government-brokered truce.

Although the violence has been subdued, it has never gone away completely.

A bomb in May in the nearby town of Tentena, which is predominantly Christian, killed 22 people and injured over 30.

That naughty violence with a will of its own!

And what might the opinion be of Christians in Sukohajo and Klaten?

This report and commentary comes from NewAmerican:

Astoundingly, Obama compared Indonesia (a nation that has only recently begun to emerge from being an unabashed dictatorship) to the United States, declaring that the two nations share a spirit of toleration.

“We are two nations which have traveled different paths. Yet our nations show that hundreds of millions who hold different beliefs can be united in freedom under one flag,” Obama said.

For those Christians whose experience of Indonesian “toleration” is not limited to childhood memories, Obama’s words are likely to elicit sorrow and pain. According to the Jakarta Christian Communication Forum (FKKJ), religious violence has been on the increase since Indonesian independence [from the Dutch, in 1945], and Christians have been the target of much of that violence. …

The latest violent incident occurred in Sukoharjo, Central Java, on Oct. 13 [2010], when 12 people on motorcycles set fire to a Protestant church …  A day before, an attempt to set fire to St. Joseph Catholic church in Klaten, Central Java, was foiled … On Oct. 17, radical Muslims threatened to attack a Catholic church in Karanganyar, Central Java. …

After the start of the reform era in 1998, the number of cases [of attacks on churches] skyrocketed …

Contrary to Obama’s “spin,” the history of the two nations regarding the relationship between Christians and Muslims and the experience of “religious tolerance” is vastly different.

So we ask: What, in addition to his obvious penchant for flattering Muslim potentates, moved Obama to make an assertion, in a speech that will endure in the records of his presidency, so far from the truth?

An intention to deceive? Pig ignorance? Wishful thinking? Dumb acceptance of misinformation? Mental derangement?

Note: In the same speech, delivered in an Islamic country, Obama chose to castigate Israel for building in its own capital city because Palestinians don’t like it. It’s worth noting that the “tolerant” Indonesians do not allow Israelis to set foot in their country.