Clashes as church in Indonesia is demolished

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 March, 2013, 3:01am


Indonesian government workers demolished a church in front of its weeping congregation yesterday, as Muslim protesters egged them on and branded the Christians "infidels".

Dozens in the 100-strong congregation wailed as a digger tore down the brick walls.

Worshippers accused the government of "criminalising" their religion, in a sign of increasing intolerance in the world's largest Muslim-majority nation.

Megarenta Sihite, 46, wiped away tears as she said: "My heart is aching. Our church can collapse but not our faith."

Police at the Taman Sari Batak Christian Protestant Church in Bekasi city, on the outskirts of Jakarta, dispersed 200 Muslim women who sneaked onto the land chanting Koranic verses.

Along the road, Muslim protesters were held back by a police cordon. One man shouted through a loudspeaker: "They're infidels and they've built their church without permission."

They're infidels and they've built their church without permission

Members of the congregation had earlier begged the Bekasi city government to order a halt to the demolition.

The local government said the church had to be knocked down because it was built last October without a legal permit.

Agence France-Presse