Indonesian city tears down church in front of worshippers

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Indonesian people take photos as civilian policemen demolish an undercontruction building of the Taman Sari Batak Christian Protestant Church in Bekasi on the outskirts of Jakarta on March 21, 2013. A local government in Indonesia demolish a church in front of its weeping congregation on March 21 as Muslim protesters branded them “infidels”. AFP PHOTO / ADEK BERRY

BEKASI, Indonesia—An Indonesian city government demolished a church in front of its weeping congregation Thursday, as Muslim protesters egged on workers and branded the Christians “infidels.”

Dozens in the 100-strong congregation wailed as a digger tore down the brick walls, with worshippers accusing the government of “criminalizing our religion,” in a sign of increasing intolerance in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.

“My heart is aching and I feel numb watching my church collapse. I went to this church for 11 years,” Megarenta Sihite, 46, told AFP, wiping away tears as fellow worshippers, dressed in black, hugged each other.

“Our church can collapse but not our faith. We will continue to come here for Sunday mass.”

As the walls of the Taman Sari Batak Christian Protestant Church — at the center of a planning row — crumbled, police in Bekasi city on the outskirts of Jakarta, dispersed 200 Muslim women who sneaked onto the church land chanting Koranic verses.

Along the road Muslim protesters held back by a police cordon had chanted “Knock the church down now,” and “Allahu Akbar” (God is greater).

One man shouted through a loudspeaker: “They’re infidels and they’ve built their church without permission.”

Members of the congregation had earlier begged the Bekasi city government to halt the demolition, with children clutching signs reading “please do not dismantle our church.”

Reverend Advent Nababan shed tears as the building was pulled down. “You just witnessed the government criminalizing our religion,” he said.

The local government had ordered the demolition of the church for being built, in October 2012, without a legal permit.

However the congregation said the permit was repeatedly and unfairly rejected after they had spent 13 years worshipping at the site unopposed in a temporary shelter.

Nababan said the church had obtained broad support from the Muslim community before building started. Several neighbours confirmed with AFP they had no problem with a church in the vicinity.

Ninety percent of Indonesia’s 240 million people identify themselves as Muslim and the country’s constitution guarantees freedom of religion.

The Setara Institute of Peace and Democracy, however, says cases of intolerance are on the rise, with 543 incidents reported in 2011, up from 491 cases in 2009. More than 300 incidents were recorded in the first half of 2012.

Christians are among the main targets, along with worshippers who follow the Ahmadiyah and Shiite Islamic minority sects.

Setara deputy director Bonar Tigor Naipospos said the permit issue was being used as an “excuse.”

“The problem is the government has shown no political will to stop cases of intolerance in the country. It does not demand the law be upheld and that perpetrators are brought to account,” he said.

The Batak Protestant Church has been at the forefront of attacks in the greater district of Bekasi. One congregation was pelted with rotten eggs and urine by Muslim hardliners who denied them entrance to their land, forcing them onto the street.

Naipospos said more of the 39 Batak Christian Protestant houses of worship in Bekasi were likely to face trouble as only 10 had been granted building permits.

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Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XALR35ENV2XKV327BZGZ7Q5Z5Q Ernesto

    illeterate at its best

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/YO4QYV7TG6VV5TSKPZXNKQHKUE Brando

    Indonesia is not a free country. Malaysia too!

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XALR35ENV2XKV327BZGZ7Q5Z5Q Ernesto

      islam country not democratic country

  • Horst Manure

    What joke religion is.

  • Billy Moreno

    Indonesia, land of the idiot muslims.

  • marienkind

    We kind of do that too. When muslims squat land, they try to build mosques there too to justify staying there. Remember the Baclaran Mosque? We tear it down. Nobody cries how horrible we are. Double standards much?

    • wanluna

      the baclaran mosque was built illegally, before it was ordered demolished there was a due process and court hearings. the court decision was that the mosque was squatting in an area that is meant to be for a transport terminal for the benefit of metro manila commuters. but they squatted and they cried religious persecution when court order was served to them. the area around the mosque has become a shanty town and muslims has been harrassing commuters in the bus stop right in front of the mosque.

  • wanluna

    this is happening in other islam countries as well…if only the mainstream news will post, then we will know how hateful some muslims are.

  • NoWorryBHappy

    Hypocritical Muslims.
    They cry ‘ethnic cleansing” in Bosnia.
    And they do the same ‘ethnic cleansing’ to non-Muslims in Indonesia.
    A tooth for a tooth. An eye for an eye.
    Theirs is the law of the jungle.

  • OFW Reader

    Muslims were given the freedom to exercise their religion wherever they go. But this is what other religions received when they are in Islamic Countries. Selfish! Disrespectful! And they revere their god, when they do this inhumane acts.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/QTVMMV3EWVYIFKLY4M5EYFAQB4 CN

      What do you expect from a religion built by a warlord, maniac, phedophile, and epileptic mohammed.The teachings of Islam are evil; kill the infidels, jihad, polygamy, and child marriage. So pathetic religion, what happened to their critical judgement?

  • Hey_Dudes

    I would love nothing but to see CBCP protesting in Indonesia for the way they treat CBCP’s religion.

    • indiosbravos2002

      These are protetants not Catholics.

    • Peter Lim

      I don’t think the CBCP has the balls to protest & because they would be so scare to ofend the Muslim! Kaya lang nila ang Babae dahil sa RH bill…He!He!He!

  • Mr. Skeptic

    That’s what you call the religion of peace! SMH

  • barada69

    I’m so proud being Filipino, we are a true mirror of global citizen, our tolerance to diversity is impeccable, we respect all religion or no religion, we welcome foreigners with open heart, sometimes joined them to our family. Overseas we assimilate to our host’s culture without forgetting our roots, one day in the future we’ll see world leaders from everywhere tracing their roots back to their old country, the Philippines.

  • regd

    The Church is not a building nor a structure. It’s the people that congregates. If the situation were reverse, there would have been pandemonium, massacres and brutal killings all in the name of their god.

  • http://twitter.com/Olibo2 Olibo

    How would they react if their mosques were demolished in western countries like USA,Australia and Britain? Or in the Philippines?

  • kaddy

    Interfaith dialogue is the answer to thwart religious intolerance. Learn something from how Muslims and non-Muslims practice peace, harmony and ecumenical existence in Uk and elsewhere. But aggressive evangelization is the common cause of such intolerance in some places. Indonesian Muslims cannot bear so much religious proselytization in their midst that they are taking this intolerant ways. Islam is truth, accepting Jesus Christ as one of the messenger of God. If Christian go beyond and insist that they alone hold the gospel truth and deny others, that is where trouble commences.

    Follow your own faith, and we follow our own is what is commanded of Muslims. Again, may be the Church was ostensibly intrusive to the neighborhoods of Muslims. Religion cannot be a tool for selfish ends, because it will lead to satanic outcomes.

    • wanluna

      islam is a very insecure religion that cannot stand scrutiny nor criticism. islam is intolerant of secular ideas. and while you dont like evangelism which is a peaceful free exchange of ideas, you forgot the way islam spreads. remember that afghanistan was a secular progressive country before hardcore islamists the taliban came to rule, now look at afghanistan, remember iran before the ayatollah came to rule, sudan, yemen, syria, tunisia. now there are millions of people in africa turning their back on islam. and look at saudi they dont allow churches to be built.
      islam is intolerant!

      • Dexter Salas

        Yup. Thank God for Ataturk. Turkey already was on her knees until he introduced secularization. Otherwise theocratic leadership would have made Turkey up to this day the sick man of Europe.

      • wanluna

        unfortunately the islamic brotherhood is slowly turning turkey around back to its sharia days.

  • blade_29

    The Muslims in Indonesia or even in other places must stop being ego-centric to think that they practice the one true religion and exclude the rest and brand others as “infidels”. Religion also means understanding,tolerance and humility which those people in Indonesia obviously lacks. I strongly condemn this most recent act of the Muslims in suppressing the practice of other religion in the pretext of having no govt. permit.

  • kaddy

    Man is living on the precipice due to myopia and idiocy. Even God is faulted. Pray to save man from himself.

  • mavtan

    Its one thing the Philippines differs from these muslim countries, we don’t tear down muslim mosques. They have as much religious freedom as the christians here.

  • $5699914

    Whenever I hear how racist these muslims are, I can’t help but smile whenever I also hear how much their lot are being harassed in Myanmar and China…..

  • kalikasanipagtanggol

    Infidels vs ignorant?

  • bogli_anakdami

    … flip gung gongs/relidiots need to demonstrate in front of the indo embassy…
    … and, flip gung gong traposakals have to “launch a probe”…
    … bwi hi hi hi hi pwi!

  • Dexter Salas

    Jihad is a just war declared against Muslims who are persecuted because they are Muslims. Now why shout Jihad when these people persecute non-Muslims themselves? The once-great Ottoman Empire, while being a Muslim Kingdom, prides itself of its tolerance even towards Jews and having Christians go up all the way to being very close advisers to the Sultan.

    • wanluna

      well i guess you still havent heard of the Armenian genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman empire against this turkish minority. estimated death to be around 1 to 1.5 million.

  • geminimind

    Religion does not guarantee you any part of your own salvation
    The true infidels in the world combined are the ones who doesn’t even know the name of their God.

  • expanding man

    not all muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are muslims……kasama diyan si Kiram….baluktot pagiisip ng mga yan……kung baga..ang hirap ispelengin,…paiba-iba at weirdo…tignan niyo si kiram….sino ba namang matinong tao pupunta sa ibang bansa dala-dala mga armas….sinalang sa panganib mga nakakaraming at nananahimik na pinoy doon….tapos sa oras ng gipitan..sinisi yung gobyernong nag warning sa kanilang huwag na pumunta in the first place….naalala ko sa saudi…pag binangga ka ng kotse ng arabo..ikaw pa sisihin kasi daw kung wala ka sa saudi..wala raw sana silang mababangga…..ganun magisip mga yan…..ang malungkot diyan…maraming fans si kiram kasi bayan daw pinaglalaban….bwahahahaha…

  • desi derata

    We should tolerate the muslims as they tolerate us. Ay, mali.

  • ShibumiNinja

    sure… you got the church…. wait till the americans rendition you taliban jihadists

  • China_Lee

    Muslim whatever angles you could see them with evil.

  • China_Lee

    In Philippines Illegal Muslim Mosque hard to demolish. In Indonesia is easy. What kind of different world.

  • YoungGen

    Is this what religion teaches you?

  • Isa_Ka_Pa

    islamic countries are barbaric !

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001723687325 Jove Vann Villacastin

    those idiots… they’re making islam look very bad.. Hell, wen Muslims took over Egypt and Jerusalem in the middle ages, they let the Christians and Jews there continue their religous ceremonies. Even Saladin himself permitted Christians and Jews to visit Jerusalem. Because before, muslims found Christians and Jews to be their brothers who had the same God. In fact, Mohammed would have never become a prophet if he never knew the teachings of Christianity and Judaism through her Christian aunt!

  • WAJ

    Indonesia is predominantly an Islamic nation. Most of the people there do not recognize Christianity as religion. The conflict that’s going on throughout the world is more of a religious war by Islamic people against the infidels. In the name of GOD!

  • go88

    islam the religion of love and peace

  • Dr. Killdeer

    M’eh… They’re only Christians. No news here. Everyone move along now.

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