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Domestic Churches once again under attack in West Java

6/18/07 Indonesia (AssistNews) – Around 150 members of the Mosque Movement Front (FPM) and the Anti-Apostasy Front have taken to the streets of Bandung to demand the closure of private homes being used for church activities. The protest which took place June 14 last, set out from the al-Ikhlash mosque in Soreang Indah arriving at Katapang district offices.

FPM head Suryana Nur Fatwa said that if the administration and the Religious Community Communication Forum failed to close down the churches, the group would: “Every violator must stop their activities or the FPM will be forced to close the domestic Churches down”. According to Fatwa 26 private homes which had been turned into churches by Christian communities in Bandung regency, “Seventeen of them have stopped operating of their own free will, but nine others are still carrying out their activities”.

For the past three years West Java has noted an increase in violence and fundamentalist pressures against the Christian community’s, above all against the so called domestic Churches are illegal. To counter the problem over a year ago the Indonesian government approved the long awaited 1969 Ministerial Decree (SKB No 1/1969), regulating the construction of places of worship. But the long legal procedures and the difficulty in gaining permission build still force numerous communities to practise their faith “illegally”.

Simon Timorason, the head of the West Java chapter of the Indonesian Churches Communication Forum, is urging the government to “take the initiative in providing land for minority groups in order to prevent such problems from arising”. Simon has recorded 70 disputes involving residents and Christian communities using private homes as churches since January 2004. Most of the cases took place in Bandung regency, as well as Bekasi, Bogor , Garut, Purwakarta and Subang.