Muslims Attack Catholic Students with Knives in Indonesia

Two young women slightly wounded.

Location of Banten Province, Indonesia. (TUBS, Creative Commons).

Location of Banten Province, Indonesia. (TUBS, Creative Commons).

SURABAYA, Indonesia (Morning Star News) – Two young women were slightly wounded when a mob of Muslims on Sunday (May 5) assaulted a group of 15 students engaged in a Catholic ritual prayer at a rented house in Banten Province, on the Indonesian island of Java, sources said.

Enraged at the Catholic group praying the rosary in a home rather than in a church building, the local neighborhood head incited area Muslims to break up the meeting and injure the two female students in the Pamulang area of Babakan village, Setu Sub-District, a suburb of Jakarta in Tangerang Selatan Regency, at about 7:30 p.m., according to published reports.

Some of the assailants were reportedly armed with a long machete, sickles, knives and blocks, and one of the young women suffered a slight wound near her nose while another sustained a minor wound in the stomach, in spite of efforts by local Muslims to protect them. A male Muslim student, Farhan Rizky Romadhon, also was reportedly attacked and suffered a cut on his head. 

The conflict began when the neighborhood head, identified as Diding, peeped into the house where the students were praying, and then intruded in, reviling the students for the prayer ritual and ultimately dispersing them, according to

“Catholic students of Pamulang University were beaten and hacked in Viktor [in Pamulang, Babakan village], just because they PRAYED,” religious and human rights activist Permadi Arya, known in media as Abu Janda, posted on Instagram. “The incident was started by the head of the neighborhood (Ketua RT) named Diding who provoked residents.”

Diding harassed, intimidated and beat the Catholic students and his fellow Muslims who were trying to prevent further chaos and harm, Permadi Arya stated.

Citing statements of the unidentified two female students, Permadi Arya asserted that Diding said holding the rosary prayer in the area disrespected him as a local leader, and that such rituals should be held in a church building.

“I have told you not to hold worship here,” Diding said, according to the students. “If you want to hold the worship, do it in the church there, as we Muslims do worship in the mosque. How dare you disrespect me as the head of the neighborhood, [expletive deleted].”

Besides calling on Indonesia Minister of Religion Yaqut Cholil Qoumas to take legal measures on behalf of the Catholic students, Permadi Arya also asked for firm action from the government.

The attorney for the attacked students, Siprianus Edi Hardum, said in a press statement that a crowd started gathering around the site at 7:30 p.m.

“At 19:30, the crowd started to gather after hearing provocation from the RT head who shouted ‘Hey, [expletive deleted], if you don’t disperse, I will call the residents,’” Siprianus Edi said, according to “The masses came carrying sharp objects as long machetes, sickles, and even blocks.” 

Siprianus Edi and members of the Association of Eastern Indonesia (Persatuan Indonesia Timur, PETIR), an association of religious groups, reported the case to the Metro Jaya Regional Police Chief. They demanded police immediately arrest the leader of the attack.

Siprianus Edi said praying the rosary from house to house is traditionally held in May and October in Indonesia.

“Anyone is free to carry out their worship,” Siprianus Edi said. “People who disturb people who are praying are considered pests (destroyers) of the country, destroyers of Indonesia as a democratic country.”

The South Tangerang Police Resort arrested the RT head and three other residents as suspects, identified only as males under the initials D, 53 years old; I, age 30; S, 36; and A, 26. Evidence was also taken in the form of video recordings, one long machete, a sickle and two knives.

Catholic students have routinely held worship and rosary prayer in one of the rented houses in the area, and uneasy residents had complained to the head of the Citizen Association (Rukun Warga, or RW), identified only as Marat, who had reprimanded and warned the students. 

Marat said they ignored his warning, triggering residents’ anger, according to Tempo. co. 

“So far, residents have complained about it, and the RT took the action,” Marat told reporters on Monday (May 6) in Babakan village. “They gather regularly, and there are worship services, too.”  

Marat said holding worship itself is okay, but that large numbers of students gathering loudly is a problem, according to Asserting that the mob had been warned about using sharp weapons, he claimed that the situation got out of control because the Catholic students first struck the residents.

Bonar Tigor Naipospos, deputy chairman of the Setara Institute for Peace and Democracy, indicated that intolerant people in Indonesia mistakenly believe that gathering for worship at a house is against the law. Private worship is legal in Indonesia, but many people consider the “private sphere” as only the five daily prayers in Islam, he said.

Indonesia ranked 42nd on Open Doors’ 2024 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. 

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