In a sign of rising tensions for the Christian community in Indonesia, Muslim extremists have interrupted a Mass in Central Java, little over a week after a priest was attacked by an axe-wielding assailant at another celebration.
During the celebration in the parish of St Peter Purwosari, near Surakarta, two men in the congregation of 200 began to heckle and threaten Fr Adrianus Sulistiyono, demanding that the Mass be halted. Police were eventually summoned to remove the men, but the pair returned a short time later with others and continued to threaten members of the congregation, including children, until the priest was forced from the altar amid fears for his safety.
On August 28, a 17-year-old extremist tried to detonate a suicide vest at a Mass in Medan in North Sumatra before going on to attack Fr Albert Pandiangan. (source) The Catholic Herald reported:
Authorities said [the] assailant left a pew and ran toward the priest at the altar, but a bomb in his backpack only burned without exploding.
Before he was restrained by members of the congregation, he managed to take an axe from the backpack and attacked Fr Albert Pandiangan, causing a slight injury to the 60-year-old priest’s hand.
The motive for the attack at St Yoseph Church in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra province, was not clear, but the perpetrator carried a symbol indicating support for ISIS.
Police were interrogating the man, who told them he was not working alone, Amar said, without providing details.
Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation.