By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) - Last week, a mob of about 750 Muslims armed with axes set fire to a church in Indonesia's Aceh province that Muslims alleged lacked the proper building permits.
According to Barnabas Aid, an Islamic youth group had demanded that any church without an official permit should be torn down. Local authorities had agreed to their demands, but before they could act, the mob set fire to a church in Suka Makmur village on Oct. 13.
According to a 2006 ordinance, building a place of worship required its applicants to obtain signatures of support from 60 neighboring households of different faiths, approval from the local religious affairs office and the recommendation of the Interfaith Communication Forum, making it problematic for any Christian to obtain a building permit. And though this ordinance was intended to apply only to new places of worship, local authorities are now imposing it retroactively against established churches despite Article 28 of the country’s constitution, which guarantees every Indonesian the right to religious freedom.
The Islamization of Indonesia began in the 1980s when President Suharto’s autocratic regime increased the role of Islam in public life. After Suharto’s resignation in 1998, Indonesia saw an increase in violence towards Christians, e.g., in Central Sulawesi and the Maluku Islands, an estimated 30,000 Christians were killed and half a million more were driven out.