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Muslims force closure of south Indonesian church

South East Asia

Muslims force closure of south Indonesian church

Indonesian family responsible for suicide bombings. Photo credit: Twitter.

Local Muslims forced the closure of a Protestant church in Banjarmasin city, on the Indonesian island of South Kalimantan last month (22 May), according to persecuted church aid agency, Barnabas Fund.

Muslims claimed that the approval given to the church by local authorities was not valid and should be cancelled. As a result of the increased tension, the church has had to suspended services, leaving the 100-strong congregation without anywhere to meet.

A law introduced in 2006 requires applications for Christian places of worship to be supported by signatures from 60 local, non-Christian households.

Another church in Banjarmasin, which was established in 1995, has had to move its meeting location seven times because the municipal government has refused to grant them licence for a permanent building. Despite the rejections, the congregation has worked hard to build relationships within the community, and local Muslims have even helped with church-run Christmas activities.

Christians comprise at least 15% of the population of Indonesia and, until a generation ago, Christians and Muslims lived peaceably as equals. However, Christians have faced increasing discrimination and violence. There have been a number of attacks on churches, including the triple church suicide bombings carried out by members of the same family in May 2018.