1,000 Churches Closed in Aceh, Indonesia, Since 2006

Police tape blocks access to a burned church at Suka Makmur Village in Aceh Singkil, Indonesia Aceh province, October 18, 2015. The words on the tape read, 'Do not cross.' ((Photo: Reuters/YT HARYONO))

1,000 churches have been closed in the Indonesian region of Aceh since 2006.

Minority faiths have suffered in Muslim-majority Indonesia since the implementation nine years ago of a law to promote 'religious harmony'.

In practice, this law means that non-Muslims must obtain local 60 signatories from a different faith as well as permission from the local authority before they can build a place of worship.

If a church is deemed not to have the correct building permits, it can be torn down.

Imams in Aceh, the only part of Indonesia where Sharia law is practised, have reportedly ordered the torching of churches, and Christians have been subject to regular bouts of mob violence.

Earlier this month, the Gatestone Institute released a report entitled 'The Indonesia Jihad on Christian churches', which claimed that Imams had called on Muslims to torch churches.

"We will not stop hunting Christians and burning churches. Christians are Allah's enemies," one Islamic leader said, according to the report.

In October, Reuters reported that several churches had been destroyed after Muslim residents, including members of the hardline group Islamic Defenders Front, had demanded they be closed.

In Aceh Singkil, thousands of Christians fled after a church was burned down and one person died.

Police in Aceh Singkil district used sledgehammers and axes to tear down the churches – little more than small, wooden structures – as Christian members of the community looked on, many of them weeping.

This article was originally published in Christian Today.

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