Worshippers clash with police in China's Jerusalem

Trouble flares in Wenzhou over installing cameras in churches
Worshippers clash with police in China's Jerusalem

A parishioner attends a Mass at a Catholic church in China. (Photo by Greg Baker/AFP)

April 12, 2017
Christians in China clashed with police over the installation of surveillance cameras in a church in Zhejiang province's Wenzhou city, known as "China's Jerusalem," according to a media report.

The confrontation in Wenzhou, home to about one million Christians, followed the implementation of an earlier government order to install cameras in churches, India Today said citing a South China Morning Post report.

The Zhejiang government issued the order to churches in Wenzhou late last year, claiming they were for "anti-terrorism and security" purposes and began implementing it before the Lunar New Year ­holiday in January.

The confrontation with the city's Christian community comes three years after the authorities ordered the removal of crosses on top of church buildings, on the grounds that they were illegal structures.

Opponents called the 2014 campaign "religious persecution."

"Government officials came to the churches and put up cameras. Some priests and worshipers who did not agree to the move were dragged away," the South China Morning Post quoted an eyewitness as saying without specifying when it happened.

"Some people needed to be treated in hospital after fighting the officials," the witness said.

Pastor Yan Xiaojie, a missionary in the city, said the cameras had been installed in a number of churches.

Next to Buddhism, Christianity is regarded as the fastest growing religion in communist China.

Unofficial estimates say China has over 65 million Christians including Catholics, Protestants as well as other church groups.

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