The Indonesian government begins destroying churches

Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen (R) and Sam Rainsy, president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), smile after a plenary session at the National Assembly in Phnom Penh April 9, 2015. REUTERS/Samrang Pring

Indonesian authorities have begun tearing down churches in Aceh province amid rising religious tension. Last week, hundreds of Muslim men burnt down three churches. Defending Christians killed one Muslim attacker. Indonesian authorities say they are demolishing the churches because they lack building permits. Parishioners looked on as government workers used sledgehammers to destroy three churches, with a further seven due to be demolished. Authorities say the Christian community had agreed to the demolition.

About 200 military and police guarded government workers as they knocked the churches down. The congregation of the churches had been requested to demolish them but refused. “How can we do it? It is the church we built to pray. It is impossible [for us to take it down],” said Paima Berutu, a leader of one the churches destroyed. “Some of us watched [the demolition] from afar. Man and women. It was painful,” he told the BBC.