Sharia forbids the construction of new churches. Islamic Tolerance Alert from modern, moderate Indonesia: “Catholics in Bogor (West Java) not allowed to celebrate Christmas Mass,” by Mathias Hariyadi for Asia News, December 20 (thanks to C. Cantoni):
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Bogor authorities have banned all public activities or celebrations associated with Christmas, including Christmas Mass, at Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church in Parung, Tulang Kuning, Bogor Regency (West Java Province). The official ban was issued in a letter that restated the usual reasons, namely the lack of a building permit for a place of worship (Izin Mendirikan Bangunan in Indonesian). Without it, even praying on Church-owned land is prohibited.
In Indonesia, permits are required for any type of building, but when it comes to Christian places of worship, they are issued only after 60 residents living near the would-be church have agreed in writing to the project and the local Inter-faith Dialogue Group has given its approval.
In this particular case, because the application has not yet been approved after a long period of time, worshippers have taken to meeting under a tent or in a restaurant. Complicating matters, local authorities have interpreted the law very restrictively, going so far as to prevent Christians from even meeting in public. Now local Catholics are at a loss because they cannot figure out how to interpret the ban….
The situation is particularly worrying because of past episodes of violence. Some parishioners, who asked their names be withheld, told AsiaNews that the ban was preceded by repeated threats from local Muslim extremists, who are bent on preventing any Christian ceremony in a public place.
The fear is that radical groups might take advantage of the ban to carry out violent acts in case Catholics hold celebrations in a public place, under a tent for example, or in a restaurant in neighbouring villages, which they have done in the past.
In 2005, local hard-line Muslim groups disrupted Easter celebrations. More problems arose in 2008, when hundreds of radical Muslims blocked access to church-owned land. On that occasion too, Easter celebrations were interrupted. Nonetheless, Good Friday and Palm Sunday services were successfully pulled off without an incident.
Parung is home to at least 3,000 Catholics. The local diocese owns 7,500 m2 of land where it wants to build a church. However, Muslim extremists have tried to prevent them….