These three women, Mrs. Ratna, Mrs. Eti and Dr. Rebekka, (L-R in photo) were arrested May 16, 2005, and charged under the Children Protection Act of 2002. Their trial began June 30th and ended September 1, 2005, when Indonesian judges sentenced the women to three years in prison plus a fine for allowing Muslim children to attend a Christian Sunday school program. According to Compass Direct News Service, Islamic extremists directed threats inside and outside of the courtroom during the trial. An observer who had attended most of the court sessions indicated there were nine trucks of protestors at this final hearing. These protestors brought with them a coffin to bury the accused if they were not found guilty.
The irony of this case is that the women launched the “Happy Sunday” children’s program in September of 2003, in response to a request by a local elementary school for assistance to meet legal requirements to comply with the National Education System Bill. Because of the popularity of this program with Christian students, some Muslim children wanted to attend. These Muslim children were only permitted to attend if they had their parent’s permission. Later some Muslim parents complained that a picnic held in Jakarta was a trick to Christianize their children while they were away from their village. Eventually their protests went to the Council for County Officers (Muspika). The local MUI (Indonesia Ulama Council) then urged that this problem be resolved by law, which led to accusing the three women of trying to Christianize Muslims.