Indonesia: Islamists protest church construction

Thursday, March 17, 2016

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) - Hundreds of Indonesian Muslims in Java's North Bekasi District have protested the construction of a church for the district's Catholic community.

According to Asia News, after 17 years of bureaucratic red tape, St. Clara's Catholic congregation in Harapan Baru had finally obtained a permit to build a church only to have Muslim mobs protest any permanent Christian presence in their neighborhood.

Since 1999, St. Clara had just one small building that could only accommodate 300 of its members. So every weekend four Masses were celebrated to meet the needs of some 7,000 Catholic congregants. But permission to build a larger, permanent place of worship had been delayed by the local authorities because of the pressure put on them by anti-Christian Islamist groups.

For Christians, Indonesia's building permit process is even more difficult because it requires the support of a local interfaith group as well as the signatures of at least 60 residents from the neighborhood where the church is to be constructed. Local officials often invent unspecified reasons not to issue church building permits, but when they finally do, Islamists take to the streets to protest the decision.

Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation where Catholics represent only three percent of the population.