Indonesia closes Churches under Islamic Law
The Islamist pressures against Christian communities in Aceh have become intolerable. Within one year, with non-existent legal pretexts, 17 churches including Catholic chapels have been closed in the province of Aceh, Indonesia under Islamic law. The Islamization of the province continues, just as promised by the Governor Zaini Abdullah. "It is the sense of the Annual Report published by Indonesian Christian.org, the protestant organization which monitors the situation of the Christian community in Indonesia. However, the Central Government is seeking to restore equity to Aceh.
Closure of Churches in Aceh, Indonesia
The forced closure of places of worship and threats against the protestant congregations, says the text, "increase unabated. But this will only create tensions manipulated from the outside between the Christian and Islamic communities. The Government must guarantee religious plurality and respect: or risk clashes and violence". Favor Bancin of the Synod of the Churches in Indonesia is of the same opinion, adding: "The behavior of local authorities is a potential threat to the tolerant atmosphere we see deteriorating over time."
Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation in the world and, while guaranteeing the constitutional principles of religious freedom, it is more and more often the scene of attacks and violence against minorities, whether they are Christians, Ahmadi Muslims or of other faiths. In the province of Aceh - the only one in the Archipelago - the Islamic law (sharia) applies and in many other areas the influence of the Muslim religion in the lives of citizens is becoming more radical and extreme. In addition, certain rules such as the building permit - the infamous IMB - are exploited to prevent the building or close Christian places of worship, as is the case for some time in Bogor regency, West Java, for the faithful of the Yasmin Church.
Behind this increase is the current governor of Aceh, Zaini Abdullah, who has spent years in exile in Sweden for his activities within the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). During his election campaign, the Islamization of Aceh was promised by its new governor, Zaini Abdullah that he would not hesitate to apply Islamic law in the province, and shortly after his election, that promise has become reality for religious minorities struggling in the most populous Muslim nation in the world.
"Indonesia exercises a spirit of pluralism and must continue to do so," said Interior Minister Gamawan Fauzi. "Tolerance must be guaranteed and the majority cannot crush the minority violating their civil rights".
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