11/21/2007, 00.00
INDONESIA
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Enraged Muslims attack domestic Church in West Java

by Benteng Reges
The latest violence against the so-called “illegal churches” in Bandung. The owner of the house explains: it’s true we have no official permit, but the law does not forbid us to use “provisional” domestic-churches while we wait.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Another harsh actions done by dozens of angry Muslims against a local home-church is taking place again in the sub-district of Dayeuh Kolot in Bandung, West Java.  The area is sadly well known for its numerous cases of violence against the so-called “illegal churches”.

This fresh violence took place as dozens of local Christians gathered to hold Sunday service, when the female pastor Obertina. “They forced entry – says Ranto Gunawan the pastor’s husband - and then destroyed everything threatening me”. The rioters say took the law into their hands, because the owners “have no legal permit to use a private home for a church service”. Gunawan called the police who arrived hours later.  The mob dispersed at the sight of the officers. 

The pastor says that the home has been used for private services since the early ‘80’s and that no-one had ever objected before.  Over the last three years however West Java has increasingly become home to violent attacks by fundamentalists against Christian communities above all the so-called “illegal domestic churches”.  In an attempt to address the problem the central government last year approved a long awaited revision of the 1969Ministerial Decree (SKB No 1/1969), which regulates the building of places of worship.  But the long and difficult procedures to obtain a permit force many communities to practice their faith illegally.

Gunawan is convinced she is not in the wrong: it’s true you need a permit to erect a church but in the meantime but the law does not forbid us to use “provisional” domestic-churches while we wait.

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