Muslims storm church in Indonesia: police


Java: May 23, 2008. Muslims have stormed a church in Indonesia to force it to close down, a resident and police said on Thursday, in the latest incident of religious intolerance in the archipelago nation.

The attack in West Java on Tuesday came after a series of similar incidents targeting churches set up in Muslim areas of the province. "Four people have been detained for questioning and are currently in custody," Purwakarta district police First Inspector Yadi said. He refused to give details about the incident but said the church, which was still under construction in Citeko village, was now under constant guard by local police. A resident of Citeko said Muslim villagers stormed the church around midnight after Christians failed to take their religious services elsewhere. "The local leaders have asked them not to use the building as a church as we are all Muslims here and those going to the church are not from here," resident Haji Ndang said. Ndang denied press reports that some of the residents tried to set the church on fire. The Jakarta Post newspaper has said that more than 30 churches have had to close their doors in West Java since 2004 because of attacks by Muslim hardliners. Dozens of churches have also been forced to close in other provinces, it has said. According to a current decree by the religious affairs ministry, houses of worship must obtain the approval of at least 60 percent of local residents and have at least 90 followers to be able to operate. Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim-majority nation with almost 90 percent of its 234 million people adherents of Islam. Although the constitution gives all religions equal footing, laws make it difficult for religions other than Islam to establish houses of worship.

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