Hundreds of supporters of 16 Islamic social organizations in Bekasi, West Java, threatened to forcibly close Galileo Church, located in Taman Galaxy, South Bekasi, on Monday, alleging that the church was trying to convert Muslim residents.

“We will close the church on Monday morning because their existence had disturbed the local residents, who are mostly Muslims,” said the head of Bekasi’s Islamic Defender Front (FPI) Murhali on TV One on Sunday.

Murhali said that there were allegations that the church was carrying out a mission to convert residents.

“We received reports that church officials often held a charity bazaar for locals but they were asked to say that Jesus is their God. I think it’s a violation,” he said.

There were six churches in the housing complex. “At night, their singing disturbs the locals’ sleep,” he said. The organizations said they had issued a statement to urge Bekasi’s municipal government to close the church, as regulated in Joint Ministerial Decree between the Religion Minister and the Home Affairs Ministers about places of worship.

“The joint decree states that before a place of worship is built, it must get approval from 60 percent of local residents,” he said.

The officials of Galilea Church were not available for comment, but police were seen guarding the premises on Monday morning.

Bekasi’s Head Detective Comr. Budi Sartono advised demonstrators to conduct peaceful protests and avoid violence. He said police would not tolerate anarchy.

“If mistakes have been made, let’s correct the mistakes peacefully. Police and the government are open to suggestions for improvements from public,” Budi said.

— JG