Muslim threats against Yasmin Church in West Java continue
by Mathias Hariyadi
The faithful still have to pray by the roadside after their church was shut down. Radical Muslim groups continue to disrupt their activities and issue threats against them. The mayor of Bogor still refuses to accept a ruling by the country’s Supreme Court upholding the Church’s right to build its own places of worship.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Diani Budiarto, mayor of Bogor (West Java), does not give up. He still wants to force the members of the Yasmin Protestant Church (GKI) to leave their church building, even though it was built in accordance with the rules. The mayor has refused to uphold a direct order by the Supreme Court of Indonesia, which authorises the Yasmin Church, to build a place of worship on land it owns. Local sources have told AsiaNews that Mayor Budiarto has also tried to stir anti-Christian sentiments among extremist Muslim groups.
On Saturday, the mayor again sent a letter to the Church demanding it stop holding Sunday prayers outside the church building. He also suggested other places where they church congregation could meet, for instance the Harmoni Function Hall.
However, Yasmin Church officials are steadfast in refusing the mayor’s proposal to go elsewhere. They note that the mayor has never said where they could build their new church, and that his latest letter is worthless since it does not provide “any date or useful information”.
On Sunday, hundreds of faithful met again on the road next the church site to celebrate a religious service. However, dozens of radical Muslims swarmed the place, disrupting the function. The same had occurred a week earlier; on that occasion, the protesters tried to interrupt the service by singing.
Rev Ujang Tanusaputra and his secretary, Rev Diah Renata Anggraeni, denied claims by the mayor in his letter that they had accepted to stop praying in the street. Contrary to what the letter said, their Church did not hold any meetings on the indicated dates, namely 6, 7 and 8 July. Instead, they urged the mayor to respect the Supreme Court’s decision.
Mr Bona Sigalingging Sh, a spokesperson for the Church, told AsiaNews “the idea of moving the road service to Harmoni Function Hall is not part of the solution.” Instead, “the mayor created a new problem by ignoring the supremacy of the law. The Church will not be chase away from the road where it meets,” he added.
“Two protesters tried to reach our leader, Jayadi Damanik,” Bona Sigalingging explained. “They told him to persuade the faithful to stop praying by the road, but he rejected their request. Even a Bogor city official intervened, asking me to persuade the community to stop its activities because Muslim groups view them negatively. I rejected the request. The real problem is the fact that the mayor has ignored the Supreme Court decision.”
Minor incidents followed the service. “At least, eight demonstrators got close to Jayadi Damanik and Tomas Wadu Dara to force them to stop and take them away,” Bona Sigalingging said.
The two clergymen said they were taken away and locked up in a room in a nearby building in order to convince them to stop praying in the street. The Yasmin Church will not however give up.