INDONESIA: CHURCH CLOSURES MOUNT UNDER ISLAMIC PRESSURE
Islamic protestors have halted worship at a church on Sumatra island and at another church on Java island, even as several other churches remain closed after suffering attacks last year. The congregation of Love Evangelical Bethel Church (Gereja Bethel Injil Kasih Karunia) near Pekanbaru, Riau province on Sumatra island ceased Sunday services after about 60 demonstrators from four local mosques on February 15 demanded its closure. The demonstrators said the church did not have a permit for expansion. The congregation is the only church in the village of 14 mosques, none of which have permits, according to the Rev. Alex Ritonga, its pastor. His church is registered with local Religious Affairs authorities, but he said it has no expansion permit as area people had told him they had no objections to any add-ons. In Banten province on Java island, a mob of Islamic youths on February 8 marched on a Christian social services house that also served as the place of worship for the Indonesia Pentecostal Church Kalibaru in Melayu village, Teluk Naga district, Tangerang, and sealed it shut. Other churches forced to close last year remain shuttered.