» 05/07/2012, 00.00
Extremist threats in Aceh: authorities close three churches
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
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).
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
38 years there were never any incidents, protests or tensions with local
residents, who are overwhelmingly Muslim.
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
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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