Christian Mass prohibited in Ambon
by Mathias Hariyadi

Worshippers attending a church inside a military air base were stopped because some did not wear shoes. For base commander, there was a “communication error”.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Yesterday, scores of Christian worshippers were prevented from celebrating Sunday Mass in Ambon, a city on the island of the same name in Maluku province.

Indonesian Air Force officers cordoned off the main door and blocked entry ordering churchgoers to leave.

Although the church is located inside the Pattimura military air base, this is the first time Christians were driven away in such an unexpected and humiliating way, witnesses said.

"We are angry because they prohibited us from reaching our church and celebrating the weekend Mass," said Stanly Haluruk, a local resident, speaking to AsiaNews.

Worshippers were reportedly not allowed to attend the Eucharistic service for the simple reason that some did not wear shoes, which are apparently required in the military compound.

The commander of the Pattimura air base expressed his regrets over the incident, stressing that such an event had never happened before.

The Air Force eventually said that what happened was due to a “communication error”. Nevertheless, the commander insisted that people must be appropriately dressed when entering a military base; for this reason, sandals and shorts are not recommended.