Islamic law forbids Christians to build new churches or repair old ones. Sharia Alert from modern, moderate Indonesia: “Muslims threaten churches in W. Sumatra,” by Syofiardi Bachyul Jb for The Jakarta Post, November 24 (thanks to Twostellas):
Although the dust from the persecution of minority Shiite Muslims in Sampang, Madura, has not settled, another religious controversy has emerged, this time in West Pasaman, West Sumatra.
A mob numbering in the hundreds and grouped under the banner of the Islamic Organizations Communication Forum (FKOI) descended on two churches on Tuesday: Stasi Mahakarya and GPSI (Gereja Pentakosta Sion Indonesia).
Those in the crowd threatened to use force to stop the congregations from building additional structures in their compounds, nailing wooden boards outside the churches.
However, the mob was not able to come too close to the houses of worship, which were guarded by nearly 200 police officers and Indonesian Military (TNI) troops.
West Pasaman Regent Baharuddin said on Friday that he would ensure the safety of all religious followers to perform divine services. “Not a single stone will be thrown at other religious followers in West Pasaman. I assure you of that,” Baharuddin told The Jakarta Post by telephone on Friday.
Baharuddin”s support for religious freedom was tempered by his support for the protestors, who, before visiting the churches, forced several cafes they said were selling alcoholic drinks to close. “I thank them for helping the government to discipline the cafes. Also, the church needs to seek permits before expanding its building.”
FKOI chairman Achmad Namlis said that organization”s efforts were made only to remind the churches to obtain permits before launching new construction projects.
“This is not the tyranny of the majority. We”ll let the Christians perform their rituals as long as they don”t breach regulations,” Achmad, who is the chairman of the local Muhammadiyah chapter, said.
Rev. Bernard, a pastor at one of the churches, said that two Islamic organizations had rejected the permit he applied for three years ago. “We will soon prepare the documents to get the permit,” Bernard said….