Indonesians are afraid but persistent in preparing for the upcoming Easter holiday amid rising tension in Indonesia. A recent string of protests and church closures by Muslim radicals and the local government has Christians more afraid than ever to reveal their identity or the location of their places of worship. Hardline Muslims know that popular Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter are ideal times to identify and pressure churches to close. Although it is not illegal for churches to meet, and it Christianity is even supposedly protected by the government, stringent license application requirements make it easy for hardline Muslims to pressure unregistered churches to close or to force local governments to close them regardless of their licenses.
4/7/2017 Indonesia (4/7/2017) – Christians in Indonesia will celebrate Holy Week despite the threat of protests from hard-line Muslim groups over church building permits.
Parishioners and congregations have had to endure harassment and protests at several churches in recent weeks by Muslims demanding their places of worship be closed down despite them holding legal permits in another example of religious intolerance in the Muslim majority, yet secular country.
Last week, violence flared when hundreds of Muslims staged a protest against the construction of a Catholic church in St. Clara Parish in North Bekasi, West Java. Police fired tear gas to disperse the protesters who tried to force their way into the church.
“Such protests challenge our efforts to maintain diversity,” Rasnius Pasaribu, secretary of the parish’s pastoral council, told ucanews.com.