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It's getting harder to be a Christian in Indonesia - hardline Muslims prevent the opening of churches, burn others
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Christians in Indonesia are facing increasing persecution as hardline Muslims gain more influence in government. Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim country and is moving increasingly towards Sharia law.
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JAKARTA, INDONESIA (Catholic Online) - Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim country and contains about 13 percent of the world's Muslims. That figure is growing as people find it increasingly difficult to be anything but Muslims. Christians in particular are singled out for persecution.
Christians are legally harassed in addition to physical threats and harassment they endure from Muslims. The problem is that the central government has ceded too much religious authority which has allowed hardline Muslims, which represent that nation's key voting bloc, to control the law.
Those laws now make it nearly impossible for Christians to build new churches. Among the onerous requirements, a church must obtain 60 signatures and get approval from a local leader before construction can begin. Those 60 signatures must come from Muslims.
Churches that already exist have been forced underground as Muslims threaten, harass and vandalize existing churches. Many pastors have been reduced to makeshift churches in rented storefronts, or to gather in private homes. Since 2007, Indonesian officials have documented the destruction of 200 churches, with many of them burned down by Islamic radicals.
Rebuilding the churches is also virtually impossible because local leaders effectively stonewall the process.
Christians say they feel persecuted and discriminated against, and the national courts rule time and again in factor of Christians, but local officials, either out of fear for their own lives or out of dedication to Islam, ignore the rulings.
Christianity is approaching the brink of extinction in Indonesia because hardline Muslims are successfully pushing Christians out of communities.
The central government denies that a problem exists, but visit a strip mall on any given Sunday and notice all the Christian churches situated within and you will notice the peculiar trend. It's getting very dangerous to be Christian in Indonesia.
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