Indonesia: Islamists Block Construction of Church

Thursday, February 27, 2014

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

JAKARTA, INDONESIA (Worthy News)-- On Friday, hundreds of armed Islamists led by local Muslim leaders forcibly occupied a two-acre plot owned by the Indonesian Christian community of Huria Kristen Batak in the village of Talang Kelapa, South Sumatra, according to Asia News.

The illegal Islamist occupation was in response to the building of a church. Some local residents had even protested the ceremony of laying the first stone.

The process for constructing a church in Indonesia can be complicated and lengthy, taking a congregation up to ten years to obtain all the permits required by law. If the building is a place of Christian worship, permission must also be obtained from 60 area residents and the local Group for Interfaith Dialogue. But even when permission is granted, construction cam be stopped by local authorities at any moment for "unspecified reasons".

The world's most populous Muslim nation, Indonesia has seen a sharp rise in the number of attacks against its minorities, especially Christians. Although the Indonesian constitution provides for freedom of religion, minority communities have been the victims of violence and abuse; in December alone, at least five Christian places of worship had to shut down due to pressure from local Islamists.