More than 5,000 Muslims participated in riots that left 10 Protestant churches severely damaged or destroyed in Surabaya, the second-largest city in Indonesia, on June 9.
Mobs, led primarily by Madurese militants, attacked with rocks, clubs, and crowbars on Sunday morning while several of the congregations were holding services. Several worshipers suffered injuries requiring hospitalization.
Compass Direct news service reported the eyewitness account of Pentecostal pastor Jeremiah Batubara. "Some daring persons climbed over the outer wall through a side entrance of the building, while others in the crowd roughly broke down the main front door of the church after they tore through the metal fenced-in front of the building," Batubara said. "The crowd surged in to destroy everything in the building." At least half the congregations reported that those in the mobs robbed congregants of jewelry, money, or clothes. At East Java Christian Church, the intruders even stole offerings from collection plates. At least four churches reported that their sound systems and musical instruments were destroyed or stolen, while four also reported that vehicles parked outside the buildings were damaged.
Worshipers who tried to calm rioters at Pogot Batak Protestant Church were beaten. At Living Word Indonesian Bethel Church, a mob destroyed furniture at a manse. At Calvary Christian & Missionary Alliance Church, the pastor was beaten and women sexually assaulted.
Indonesia is about 80 percent Muslim, and with 150 million adherents of Islam it has more than any other nation. Several arrests have been made, and members of the churches are continuing to meet.
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