AFP--An Indonesian city government demolished a church in front of its weeping congregation Thursday, as Muslim protesters egged on workers and branded the Christians "infidels".
Dozens in the 100-strong congregation wailed as a digger tore down the brick walls, with worshippers accusing the government of "criminalising our religion", in a sign of increasing intolerance in the world's largest Muslim-majority nation.
"My heart is aching and I feel numb watching my church collapse. I went to this church for 11 years," Megarenta Sihite, 46, told AFP, wiping away tears as fellow worshippers, dressed in black, hugged each other.
"Our church can collapse but not our faith. We will continue to come here for Sunday mass."
As the walls of the Taman Sari Batak Christian Protestant Church -- at the centre of a planning row -- crumbled, police in Bekasi city on the outskirts of Jakarta, dispersed 200 Muslim women who sneaked onto the church land chanting Koranic verses.
Along the road Muslim protesters held back by a police cordon had chanted "Knock the church down now", and "Allahu Akbar" (God is greater).
One man shouted through a loudspeaker: "They're infidels and they've built their church without permission."
Members of the congregation had earlier begged the Bekasi city government to halt the demolition, with children clutching signs reading "please do not dismantle our church".
Reverend Advent Nababan shed tears as the building was pulled down. "You just witnessed the government criminalising our religion," he said. (Continue Reading.)
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