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03 April 2010

Indonesian Islamists in Bogor Disrupt Otherwise Peaceful Good Friday

cgy-way-cross.jpgWhile most Christians peacefully held Good Friday services across the country on Friday, at least 1,000 churchgoers in Pa­rung, Bogor, had to pray at a restaurant after protests by Muslim hard-liners.

A church member told the Jakarta Globe that on Thursday night the congregation held a two-hour service to observe White Thursday under tents erected on the vacant plot of land in Parung where their John the Baptist church was being built.

Gabriel Michael Kia Telok said the Mass ended peacefully, with police helping to direct traffic around the church construction site. However, some two hours later, a group claiming to belong to the Parung Ulema Forum came and staged a protest rejecting the construction of the church in the area. Gabriel said the protesters claimed the church did not have the necessary construction permits.

The group also threatened to disband forcefully any religious activities held there.

The church originally applied to Bogor authorities for permission to build the church in 1990 but has still not received any response.

“Some 200 young people came to our makeshift chapel and asked us to stop our prayers, which actually were already done. We were terrified, but after they negotiated with our church leaders, the group agreed to move their protest to the Parung district office,” Gabriel said.

To ensure the safety of the congregation, the church leaders decided to move the Good Friday service to a building owned by the local education office, but a miscommunication forced them to move the venue again to a restaurant owned by a church member.

“It’s not the first time the group has staged a protest. Protests also occurred during Easter celebrations in 2008 and Christmas services in 2009,” Gabriel said.

News of the incident spread on microblogging and social networking Web sites, with many offering sympathy and condemning the intimidation. One Facebook user asked: “Is this a permanent incident, as Catholics are not allowed to pray inside their own churches in Bekasi?”

She was referring to an incident last year in which Muslim hard-liners attacked a church under construction in Bekasi. In addition to threats of violence, Indonesian minority religious groups say they face difficulties in obtaining the necessary permits to build places to worship.

According to the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, there were 139 cases of violation of the freedom to worship in Indonesia in 2009



08:28 Posted in Indonesia | Permalink | Comments (0) |  Facebook |

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