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    » 07/18/2013, 00.00

    INDONESIA

    Aceh, increasing intolerance against Christians: 17 house churches closed

    Mathias Hariyadi

    The Muslim majority province is led by Zaini Abdullah, who has based his political fortune on the "full application" of sharia. Jakarta protests and demands the governor "respect religious plurality," but Christian leaders denounce violence and persecution by the Islamic community.

    Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The Islamist pressures against Christian communities in Aceh "have become intolerable. Within a year, with non-existent legal pretexts, 17 house churches have been closed: these also include Catholic chapels. The islamization of the province continues , just as promised by the governor Abdullah. " It is the sense of the Annual Report published by IndonesianChristian.org,  Protestant organization which monitors the situation of the Christian community in Indonesia.

    The forced closure of places of worship and threats against Protestant congregations, says the text, "increase unabated. But this will only create tensions manipulated from the outside between the Christian and Islamic communities. The government must guarantee religious plurality and respect: or risk clashes and violence". Favor Bancin, of the Synod of the churches in Indonesia is of the same opinion, adding: "The behavior of local authorities is a potential threat to the tolerant atmosphere we see deteriorating over time."

    Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation in the world and, while guaranteeing the constitutional principles of religious freedom, it is more and more often the scene of attacks and violence against minorities, whether they are Christians, Ahmadi Muslims or of other faiths. In the province of Aceh - the only one in the Archipelago - the Islamic law (sharia) applies and in many other areas the influence of the Muslim religion in the lives of citizens is becoming more radical and extreme. In addition, certain rules such as the building permit - the infamous IMB - are exploited to prevent the building or close Christian places of worship, as is the case for some time in Bogor regency, West Java, for the faithful of the Yasmin Church .

    Behind this upsurge is the current governor of Aceh, Zaini Abdullah, who has spent years in exile in Sweden for his activities within the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). During his election campaign, the Islamic politician stated several times that "he would not hesitate to apply the Koranic laws in the province." And a few months after his election his words have become reality.

    For its part, the central government is seeking to curb this trend. Interior Minister Gamawan Fauzi has repeatedly warned that these activities "are not acceptable. Indonesia exercises a spirit of pluralism and must continue to do so. Tolerance must be guaranteed and the majority can not crush the minority violating their civil rights ".

     

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    See also

    09/09/2013 INDONESIA
    West Aceh , Protestant pastor and four Christians arrested for proselytizing
    The religious police arrest five for trying to convert Muslims in the area. In fact, they ensured education and remedial courses . Not even the head of the Office of Religious Affairs is sure of the charges. Islamic law in force in the province and in the past Protestant Christians have been imprisoned for similar cases.

    23/07/2012 INDONESIA
    Aceh, Christians protest over burned church and authorities inertia
    The fire dates to July 18 in Singkil regency. Pews and musical instruments destroyed in the fire. Since May last year the local government, under pressure from Islamists, has sealed off 20 Christian places of worship, four of which are Catholics.

    27/04/2006 INDONESIA
    Christian politicians against Sharia for non-Muslims

    Muslim-based parties have proposed a bill to apply Islamic law to all citizens of the Indonesian province. The proposal comes amid debate aimed at drawing up a new law to govern Aceh following the Helsinki peace accord.



    12/01/2013 INDONESIA - ISLAM
    Further implementation of Sharia in Aceh to cause greater social tensions
    Many fear a split between fundamentalist and moderate Muslims. Political expediency and poor governance are the driving force behind the province's islamisation. Critics slam the province's morality police for its crackdown on deviant behaviour. In 2012, 50 cases of Sharia-related violence were recorded.

    05/11/2004 indonesia
    Christian man decapitated in new violence in Indonesia's Poso




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