Chinese Police Shut Down Christmas Celebration

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Chinese police in the village of Xintan broke up a public Christmas celebration before it even started.

In a video posted to YouTube, the Xintan Village Church said it had permission to hold an outdoor event on the village square.

A local official said the church was told to cancel its celebration after local Buddhists complained to authorities.

Church members said the police officers rushed the stage, wrecked a mixing console, turned over an electric piano and pushed and punched worshippers amid the Christmas decorations.

Five believers were injured in the scuffle.

"There were a few hundred of us. And the village heads were there too, and they were even more violent," said Wang Jingfeng, one of the Christians present. "This is like a dog biting a rat."

The church posted a video online that showed people putting up decorations on a stage with a red backdrop that says "Silent Night" in Chinese and English and below that "2011 Christmas Village Christmas Party" while Christmas music plays in the background. Uniformed police then cut the electricity, killing the sound, while people flood the stage pushing and shoving.

The Xintan church is not registered and is considered illegal by the Chinese government.

"We told them that any outdoors event of a religious nature is strictly banned from being organized, and that's what it states in the government rule on religion," said Zeng Jianhua, deputy director of religious affairs in Ruian city, which oversees Xintan.

Xintan bills itself as "Christmas village." Local factories produced more than $78 billion in Christmas products this year, which prompted local officials to stage a Christmas arts and culture fair last week.

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