Indonesian Churches have to hide in malls

30 04 2008

H/T to LGF

From the BBC

Indonesians seek salvation in shops

Empty shopping malls are eerie, and this one is no different.

But in the dim light of early morning, figures can be seen slipping past the security guards, their footsteps echoing down empty corridors.

It is Sunday morning, not yet 8 o’clock, and the shops are all still locked and shuttered.

But these people have not come to shop; they have come to pray.

Shopping malls in West Java are home to a growing number of Christian congregations. There are 10 in this mall alone.

Now why would that be? Is land hard to get in Indoesia? Probably not.

Few of them want to talk publicly about why they are here, but off the record they admit it comes down to intimidation by Muslim groups.

According to Church groups more than 100 churches have faced attack or intimidation in the past two years.

Well, that really doesn’t surprise me.

Religion or rules?

One of the groups alleged to be behind some of these incidents is the FPI, or Islamic Defenders Front, a radical group that became a household name when it forced Playboy magazine out of Java.

Church leaders allege the group’s members are forcing churches to close through violence and intimidation.

Saipul Abdullah, the head of the FPI in this area, told me that there may be people at the grassroots level who react emotionally.

“They become very angry and frustrated and little eruptions can happen,” he said.

“Maybe they’ll tear down a sign, or shake some doors, or lock some doors, but they don’t really have the right to do that.”

But, he said, this was not about religion. It is about the fact that some churches are not playing by the rules.

Only 20% of the Churches in this province have an official permit to hold religious services.

I guess that alot of Christians in Indonesia don’t want to be salves to Islam. Good for them.

TVFOH
The View From Out Here

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