Despite having the required government permit, a protestant church in Jakarta has not been able to hold services, thanks to Muslim hard-liners’ protests and threats.
They claim the church is located in a predominantly Muslim residential area in the Cengkareng district of West Jakarta – too close to a mosque and an Islamic boarding school. The church administrators, dispute the claim, saying there are no mosques or residential areas nearby. A local Muslim explained that the main objection is because a mosque will be built nearby.
Reverend Timotheus Halim, head of the Family of God Church, said he does not understand why objections were being raised as all legal requirements have been followed. “Our church got a permit from the West Jakarta mayor on 2 July this year, based on an agreement with local people.” On 5 July, he was summoned by community leaders who told him the church was banned because it was near a mosque, an Islamic boarding school, and houses owned by clerics.
Reverend Halim said he and 150 members of his congregation were planning to hold their first prayer meeting at the new church on 7 July. The meeting was cancelled, after they received threats from Muslim groups, including the notorious Islamic Defenders Front.
He said the same group had hounded them out of their last church building in West Jakarta, but “I will fight and not give up because we have a legal permit and have fulfilled all requirements from the government.”
Sources: International Christian Concern, UCA News
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