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(Compass) – Local authorities recently ordered 12 churches in Rancaekek , Indonesia , to close their doors. The order came after Muslim leaders protested that the churches were meeting illegally. The congregations had applied as early as 1993 for permits for church buildings, but were refused because officials said the land was reserved for a housing development, not for places of worship. Christians have since been meeting in private homes, but a local Muslim group declared this was illegal. Despite negotiations, the Christians were ordered to stop meetings in the first week of September. Local officials rarely grant permission for a church building to be erected and they don’t allow congregations to meet in private venues. Many Christians say this is an abuse of their basic right to religious freedom. The Rev. Simon Timorason of the West Java Christian Communication Forum says the churches will try to resolve the issue through proper legal channels.