A church was burnt down and a further nine destroyed by police in Aceh, Indonesia. A large mob set fire to one church and threatened others before being disbanded and congregation members wept as they watched police destroy other churches.
On the 6 October a large crowd of Islamic Extremists gathered to protest the continued use of unregistered church buildings. After this demonstration and ongoing demands for closures, the local regency agreed that 10 unregistered church buildings in the area would be closed.
Not satisfied with the response of the government, a text message was sent around to local Islamic groups, encouraging them to destroy any local churches that were unregistered. On 13 October, a large crowd of Muslims marched around government offices before setting fire to and destroying the International Christian Church.
This particular church building was not on the list of unregistered buildings to be destroyed. A follow up message was then sent around that read, “We will not stop hunting Christians and burning churches. Christians are Allah’s enemies!” In response the government sent additional police to the area to restore peace.
The actions of this mob in destroying the church did not prevent the closures of a further nine buildings by police on 23 October. Church members wept as civil police officers torn down the buildings using hammers.
The agreement to demolish unregistered churches was partly driven by a ministerial decree in 2006, instructing worship houses to obtain a religious building license. It is estimated over 80% of worship houses in the country lack proper licensing* including mosques. Unlike churches though unregistered mosques are hardly contested by civil groups.
Another 13 churches that were not in the closure list have now been given six months to apply for a permit.
Aceh is the only province that enforces the Sharia (Islamic) Law, making it one of the most hostile places for Indonesian non-Muslims, especially Christians. Indonesia ranks No.47 on the 2015 World Watch List.
*2013 the National Commission of Human Rights
- Pray for the Christians how have lost their churches and have no certainty of a place to meet in the near future.
- Pray that these communities will not be split by violence, but that Christians would be forgiving and kind to their Muslim Neighbors.
- Pray for the Muslims who see Christians as their enemies, that God will change their hearts.
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