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ICC Note:

Christians are united in contesting a new decree that restricts their right to build churches. A moderate Muslim group, Ahmadiyah (considered heretical by strict Muslims) is standing with the Christian groups in opposing this new decree.

By Hera Diani,

For full story click here:The Jakarta Post

The Jakarta Post (03/26/06)–Christian leaders and members of the Ahmadiyah group presented a united stand Friday in opposing the revised decree on places of worship, and threatened to ignore it unless it is changed to meet their demands.

The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), meanwhile, is also dismayed by what it considers the disproportional accommodation of other religions.

Several Ahmadiyah and Christian leaders announced Friday they planned to seek judicial review with the Supreme Court because the decree contravenes the Constitution, disregards human rights and would sow religious discord.

“The decree can pit people of different religions against each other,” said Alma Shephard Supit of the Peace Forum, a grouping of Catholic, orthodox and Bethel Pentecostal Church leaders with representatives of Ahmadiyah.

He said the country’s Constitution does not recognize a joint ministerial decree.

“We urge the government to scrap it altogether. We may well call for (acts of) disobedience,” Alma said.

Religious Affairs Minister M. Maftuh Basyuni and Home Minister M. Ma’ruf signed the revised joint ministerial decree Tuesday, which replaced one issued in 1969.

The former decree was controversial because it required consent of local administrations and a large number of residents in the areas to build houses of worship.

Minority religions complain the decree has been used to discriminate against them. In the past two years, 23 churches in West Java alone have been forcibly shut down on the grounds that the buildings lacked permits.

Critics worry the new decree’s requirements will make it even more difficult for them to worship, and contend the state has no right to regulate the basic right to practice one’s faith.

The decree rules that new places of worship must have congregations of a minimum of 90 people, and receive consent of 60 people of other faiths living in the area. There also is a requirement to obtain permits from the local administration and the Communication Forum for Religious Harmony.