Members of St. Lidwina, a Catholic church in Yogyakarta, Indonesia were attacked during their Sunday service by a man wielding a one-meter sword.
The attacker entered the church during mass and ran toward the choir. He attacked Pastor Karl Edmund Prier, who was leading the choir. Pastor Karl suffered injuries as did two church members and a police officer who wrestled the sword from the attacker to prevent further harm.
Constitution guarantees religious freedom
The government and religious leaders have called on all Indonesians to stay calm and not be provoked by the incident. President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo has stressed the importance of upholding religious freedom, “Our Constitution guarantees religious freedom. Therefore, we will not give even the slightest amount of room to those who promote and spread intolerance in our country. Especially those who act with violence," he said, at the Foreign Ministry in Jakarta on Monday.
President Joko Widodo also instructed the authorities to investigate the case thoroughly. “I have ordered the authorities to take firm actions. The state will consequently uphold the Constitution.”
The perpetrator was identified as one of the alumni of an Islamic boarding school in East Java and known by the villagers as a good Quran reader. He had attempted to travel to Syria and had showed signs of being radicalized. Police are currently investigating whether the attacker acted alone or with the help of a larger network.
Many are concerned for the safety of churches and believers in Indonesia as local elections are scheduled for June. Election years are extremely prone to religious conflict which political actors will manipulate to gain votes.
- For comfort and healing for St. Lidwina’s church and all those involved in the attack
- That the government would act on their promise of ‘firm action’ and that religious freedom would be an everyday reality for Christians in Indonesia
- For safety during this election year.