Indonesian Christians Hold Outdoor Easter Service After Churches Shut Down By State
Indonesian Christians carry a giant Easter egg with messages from people for Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono after an Easter service outside the presidential palace in Jakarta on March 31, 2013. Over 200 Indonesian Christians on March 31 held Easter service in front of the presidential palace demanding the government to stop church closures in the world’s most populous Muslim country. (AFP /Adek Berry)
More than 200 Indonesian Christians on Sunday held an Easter service in front of the presidential palace, demanding the government stop church closures in the world’s most populous Muslim country.
Amid hooting cars and other traffic noise, men, women and toddlers sang hymns and said prayers in a two-hour service that also served as a protest against the lack of protection for religious minorities.
The worshipers came from three areas on the outskirts of Jakarta where local government officials shut churches, citing community opposition or the lack of proper building permits.
Rights activists have said local governments are using the permit issue as an excuse to kowtow to religious hard-liners, with churches and Islamic minorities bearing the brunt of attacks.
They say mosque building permits are rarely challenged.
“We are here to show the president and the world that law enforcement, constitutional supremacy and protection of minority groups are not as sweet as the president had claimed,” said Bona Sigalingging, a spokesman for GKI Yasmin church.