04/03/2017, 19.06
CHINA
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Anti-terrorism cameras installed in Wenzhou churches (Zhejiang) spark Christian protest

The authorities order churches to install cameras at the gates, rostrums, offering boxes, and other places. This comes three years after a campaign to tear down crosses and churches. The authorities tighten their grip over religious activity.

Wenzhou (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Wenzhou is known as China’s Jerusalem because of its large Christian population, as well as its many churches and religious buildings.

Late last year, the authorities in Zhejiang province issued an order requiring CCTV camera in all Wenzhou churches. Installation began just before the start of the Lunar New Year holiday in January.

Some Christians have tried to resist government officials trying to install surveillance cameras on their churches for "anti-terrorism and security purposes"

This clash with the city’s one million Christians comes three years after the authorities launched a campaign to remove crosses and demolish churches.

During the controversial campaign in 2014, deemed by many as "virtual religious persecution", government officials took down 360 crosses and demolished one church. The new policy too has met again with resistance among the faithful.

“Government officials came to the churches and put up cameras by force. Some pastors and worshippers who didn’t agree to the move were dragged away,” a Christian in Wenzhou said, without saying when it occurred. “Some people needed to be treated in hospital after fighting the officials,” he added.

Despite strong opposition from churchgoers who claimed the surveillance infringed their privacy, churches were told to install cameras at gates, rostrums, offering boxes and other places, US-based China Aid has reported.

Many parishioners declined to comment the camera order due to the issue’s sensitivity.

Security cameras in Wenzhou churches are part of a series of country-wide policies implemented by Beijing to increase control over religious activities.

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