12/06/2005, 00.00
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Five churches and a mussola demolished.

by Benteng Reges

The five churches and small mosque had been constructed on public land in Banten region. A complex of houses and shops will replace the churches. In Java, 25 churches were closed down within a year.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The Tangerang regency authorities have demolished five Protestant churches and a small mosque despite the protests of the faithful. The places of worship had been built on public land five years ago. A housing and shopping complex will be built where the churches stood, according to M. Hidayat from Tangerang's Building and Housing Management Office. "A property company filed a demand to my office for a permit to build on public land," he said.

The authorities also revealed that no other churches will be built to replace those which were demolished. And they are ready to counter any legal action which the Church authorities may see fit to file in the State Civil Tribunal.

The situation is difficult in West Java too, where 25 churches have been closed within a year and where worship is forbidden even in people's homes. The private residence of Rev. Syarief Hidayatullah, which for long has served a secret church, was confiscated by hundreds of the so-called Surakarta Muslim Coalition (KUIS). Handano, head of the Sukoharjo police, who has the authority to shut down places of worship, said the house had been confiscated because it had been used as a church. "That is illegal and the proprietor misused the permit," he said.

Meanwhile, Aji Ngumboro, the secretary of Bekasi's Parliamentary Commission, entrusted to debate the drafting of a law about the use of private residences as churches, said: "We do not discuss the right of worshipping, but legal permit to use building as places of worship."

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