» 07/18/2013 11:02 INDONESIA Aceh, increasing intolerance against Christians: 17 house churches closed by 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
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 ".