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» 05/07/2012
INDONESIA
Extremist threats in Aceh: authorities close three churches
by Mathias Hariyadi
Two Catholic and one Protestant place of worship. Among these, the Napagaluh Catholic prayer chapel, a "historic" building open for 38 years with no record of incidents or complaints. Local government claims they lack building permits. In reality closure due to protests of local Islamic fringe.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The ongoing protests by a Muslim extremist fringe has led to the closure of three Christian places of worship in the province of Aceh, the only province in Indonesia where Shariah (Islamic law) is enacted. According to the radical movement the churches were illegal and they have demanded - under threat - the intervention of the authorities. The local administration used the pretext of an alleged lack of building permits, to seal up the buildings. One of the three is a small - historical - Catholic chapel, open for almost 40 years and full of faithful during celebrations. Although an overwhelmingly Muslim area, the province of Aceh has always been characterized by a "spirit of tolerance" and this is the "first case" of an intervention by authorities against places of worship of the Christian minority.

The authorities closed the three Christian buildings in Aceh last May: the Catholic Church in Napagaluh, Singkil, a sub-district of Paris Danau, the Protestant Gereja Kristen Pakpak Dairi, and also the Napagaluh Catholic Church of St. Paul, in the village of Lae Balno. A Singkil district official explains that, according to law, they are all without a building permit (IMB, Izin Mendirikan Bangunan).

The Napagaluh Catholic church, in fact, is a "small, historic" prayer chapel - undung-undung in the local language - which opened in 1974 and is attended by dozens of faithful each week for the liturgies. In 38 years there were never any incidents, protests or tensions with local residents, who are overwhelmingly Muslim.

The closure is the result of a long series of protests promoted in recent times, by Islamic extremist movements in the area. Among these the Singkil Muslim Forum, which denounces the "proliferation" of Christian churches in the region. In particular, they point their finger at the construction of 27 houses of prayer, when, according to a "consensual agreement" reached in 2001 between Christians and Muslims, the expected number is only one permanent church and four undung -undung.

The Catholic Napagaluh church within the jurisdiction of the parish of Tumbajae Manduamas, belongs to the diocese of Sibolga, a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Medan (Sumatra). AsiaNews has contacted the local leaders of the Church who, at the present time, do not intend to comment or release a statement on the matter.

 


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See also
11/28/2007 INDONESIA
After 40 years a Catholic Church in West Java is forced to close
by Benteng Reges
08/16/2010 INDONESIA
Jakarta, Bekasi Protestant Christians sit in outside Presidential Palace
by Mathias Hariyadi
08/27/2010 INDONESIA
Jakarta, Christians, Buddhists and Muslims demand tolerance from extremists
by Mathias Hariyadi
02/08/2010 INDONESIA
Bekasi, anti-Christian persecution continues. A Protestant church targeted
by Mathias Hariyadi
09/26/2006 INDONESIA
West Java: Muslim extremists continue to attack churches

Editor's choices
VATICAN
Pope: I am with the persecuted Christians of Mosul and the Middle East "May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated with violence. Violence is defeated with peace." At the Sunday Angelus Francis comments on the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God is "patient" He knows "the same weeds in the end, may become good wheat". But "at the time of the harvest, that is, of judgment, the reapers will execute the order of the master separating the weeds to be burned".
CHINA - VATICAN
Beijing, seminarians desert graduation ceremony: We will not celebrate Mass with illegitimate bishops The rector of the seminary is the illegitimate bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin: Students refuse to concelebrate with him and reject Msgr. Fang Xingyao, who has participated in several illegal episcopal ordinations. The directors close the year without awarding diplomas and send students home: rumors of some courses being "suspended" in September. The precedent of 2000, when 130 young students chose fidelity to the Pope over compromise with the government.
HONG KONG-CHINA-VATICAN
Card Zen: Religious freedom and civil liberties are united, for China and Hong Kong
by Bernardo CervelleraA wide ranging conversation with the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong: the courage of Msgr. Ma Daqin, who sent a message to Pope Francis; underground Catholics are also prepared to be arrested; suspicions about Beijing’s sincerity towards possible dialogue with the Holy See. And in Hong Kong, the march for a referendum on democracy; support for "Occupy Central"; the fear of the government and arrests. Card. Zen reaffirms that religious freedom and civil liberties go hand in hand.

Dossier
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pp. 176
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