Indonesia Blocks Construction of Baptist Church Amid Protests from Muslims

Local authorities are not allowing a Baptist church in the Central Java province of Indonesia to complete the construction of its house of worship, which has the required permit, due to opposition from Muslim residents in the area, according to a persecution watchdog.

The construction of Indonesian Baptist Church in the Tlogosari area in the city of Semarang has halted for six months, the U.S.-based group International Christian Concern reported.

Last August, the local government asked the church to collect more than 60 signatures from local residents, and the church got 84 signatures. However, community groups continued to pressure the government to block the church’s construction.

In the Southeast Asian archipelago of Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, churches often face opposition from local groups that typically question the authenticity of the signatures to obstruct the construction of non-Muslim houses of worship.

The church said it will take legal action to resolve the dispute.

“We are ready to take legal channels to fight against the people’s refusal,” the church’s attorney, Zainal Arifin, was quoted as saying. “The reasons for the rejection are changing, starting from falsified signatures, expired IMBs (permits) until finally, the residents’ refusal does not touch the issue of principle permits.”

The church’s pastor, identified only as Wahyudi, said, “We will continue to fight for this because if left unchecked it will set a bad precedent for freedom of religion and worship in Semarang.”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Anugrah Kumar