» 07/18/2013, 00.00
Aceh, increasing intolerance against Christians: 17 house churches closed
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
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.
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 ".
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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