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ICC Note: Local officials in northern Vietnam has asked a Catholic church in the area, Dong Kieu church, to remove a nativity scene in their parish. While authorities claim that the church is erecting the nativity scene on a land of an ownership dispute, the church maintains its legal ownership of the land. The same night, Christmas lights and decorations were damaged by a group of gangsters. Vietnamese government often allows gangs backed by the authorities to harass and assault Christians.  

12/18/2017 Vietnam (UCA News) – Catholics in northern Vietnam have been ordered by local officials to dismantle a “nativity” scene in their parish made up of objects representing the birth of Jesus.

Dong Kieu Church, at the center of the row, is located in Dien My Commune of Nghe An Province.

A local witness said police and military personnel had been deployed around the church.

Many Catholics, including from neighboring parishes, had gathered to protect the nativity being erecting on land they say is part of the broader church compound.

“We strongly oppose their illegal and unreasonable demand,” one man said.

Police and local government authorities on Dec. 13 ordered local Catholics to stop building the nativity scene.

They accused them of erecting it on land that is the subject of an ownership dispute.

However, Church sources maintain that the land was donated to the parish.

They complained that on the evening of Dec. 13, a group of “gangsters” destroyed colorful electric lights and other decorative Christmas items on the road leading to the church.

On December 14, priests led by Father Dominic Pham Xuan Ke, head of Dong Thap Deanery, participated in a special Mass.

“Why do authorities here ban erecting nativities?” Father Ke asked.

The priest accused local authorities of backing the gangsters to harass local Catholics.

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