Hundreds Press Indonesian Gov't to Protect Religious Freedom

Hundreds rallied in Indonesia's capital city, Jakarta, on Sunday, urging President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to stop attacks by radical Islamists on Christian churches.

Carrying several Indonesian flags at half-mast, the mostly Christian group demanded that the president punish hardline Muslim groups that attack minority faiths.

Protesters accused the president and the government of violating constitutional rights of minority groups to freely practice their religion.

This year, between January and July, there were reportedly 28 cases of religious freedom violations in Indonesia. In 2009, there were only 18 reported for the whole year. In 2008, there were only 17.

Indonesian rights groups say the violations, mostly by radical Muslim groups, include the forced closure of churches and attacks such as torching.

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