Pleas for solidarity after government demolishes buildings in Indonesia

by Joni B. Hannigan, Editorial Staff |
An Indonesian policeman holds a rifle as he guards residents during Sunday mass prayer beside a burned church at Suka Makmur Village in Aceh Singkil, Indonesia Aceh province, October 18, 2015. Hardline Muslims in Indonesia's conservative Aceh province on Sunday demanded the local government close 10 Christian churches, just days after a mob burnt down a church, leaving one person dead and several injured. | REUTERS/YT Haryono

ACEH, Indonesia (Christian Examiner) — Just as Christians across the globe were preparing for the International Day of Prayer, Sunday, Nov. 1, Open Doors reported nine Indonesian churches were demolished following religious violence in the Aceh province.

One person is reported dead and an estimated 8,000 Christians displaced in an Oct. 19-23 cleansing.

Indonesian civil service police members demolish a church at the Siompin village in Aceh Singkil, Aceh province, October 19, 2015. | REUTERS/YT Haryono

The churches were razed following threats by Muslim extremists who demanded two of the church with large congregations, were targeted for closure, along with the others, according to local church activists.

The police destroyed the church after being told to do it "or else, the radicals will deploy around 7,000 people [to attack]," said *Rudy [not his real name]. The government gave in to the demand."

Open Doors said church member "watched in despair" as police officers "hammered down" the houses of worship—and that now around 1,000 "churchless believers" are forbidden even from worshipping in temporary tents.

Instead, they must go to other villages to worship and must apply for permits they are skeptical they will be able to obtain.

"Please pray for the Body of Christ in the Aceh province to be strong throughout this trial," Open Doors said. "Most of them are still in deep trauma even after returning home. Tensions have subsided, but the presence of police and military personnel remains strong."

Open Doors also urges solidarity in this time and that the national government will uphold the rights of the religious minority groups.