ABC – In Indonesia , another two Christian churches in the capital, Jakarta , were blocked by Muslim militants over the weekend, forcing 500 Christians to conduct services in the street. Muslim hardliners have closed more than 30 churches across Indonesia over the past year. Our reporter in Jakarta , Marianne Kearney, says Muslim groups have defended the forced closures, often using the threat of violence, arguing that the churches are illegal.
Church leaders admit some communities have been forced to conduct services in houses and shops, without the proper permits, because the local Muslim communities have opposed the construction of new churches. Under Indonesian law religious groups must have permission from local communities, as well as the government, before building places of worship.
Richard Daulay, the secretary general of the Indonesian Communion of Churches, says that in the majority-Muslim nation, the law is biased against Christians and other minorities. “So many churches, so many requests, the government, who are mostly Muslim leaders don’t understand that the typical Protestant church tends to be divided, so they think so many requests means the church is expanding but it’s not true,” he said.