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  • » 04/04/2011, 00.00

    INDONESIA

    Bogor: “war” against Yasmin Church as the faithful pray in streets

    Mathias Hariyadi

    The city mayor tells Christians to accept the transfer of their church. The pro-Islamist party politician accuses Christians of seeking open confrontation. Church members counter that they have the backing of a Supreme Court sentence, and claim the right of freedom of religion. Moderate Muslim leader supports the Yasmin Church.
    Jakarta (AsiaNews) – The legal and verbal confrontation between the municipal authorities of the West Java city of Bogor and the members of the Yasmin Church could become an open “war”. Bogor’s mayor, elected on the ticket of an Islamic party, has ordered Christians to accept the transfer of their church to another area of the city. Yasmin Church members have countered that the Supreme Court has backed their claims, and are opposed to moving their place of worship. As an act of protest, they held this Sunday’s services out in the street (pictured).

    Bogor Mayor Diani Budiarto, from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), wants the church moved to avoid a confrontation between local hard-line Islamists and Yasmin Church members.

    In a recent press statement, he raised the ante, saying that Christians “must” either accept the move to another location, or reject the proposal. However, for him, it is clear that “they [the Christians] want a place of worship or will stage a war [against me].”

     “Totally absurd” is how Christians have described Budiarto’s proposal because it does not take into account a sentence of the Supreme Court, which authorities Yasmin Church members to continue building their church.

    The country’s top judges ruled against Mayor Budiarto in a decision that reiterated the principle that religious freedom applies to all. After issuing a building permit in 2006, the mayor had reversed his decision and told Christians they could not build their church.

    Under Indonesian law, churches of all denominations (Catholic or Protestant) require a local building permit as well as 60 signatures from local residents before they can build a place of worship.

    Despite meeting all the requirements, Christians are often faced with opposition from local Islamic fundamentalists and fanatics who put pressure on local government to stop construction and rescind building permits.

    Yesterday, Bogor Christians celebrated Sunday Mass in the open and announced that they would fight for their rights.

    A group of members of the Yasmin Church filed a complaint with police against Mayor Budiarto for his words about “war” against their church.

    “We shall never stop fighting for religious freedom”, Bona Sigalingging ShH told AsiaNews. Rev Ujang Tanusaputra slams “bellicose statements” by hard-line Muslim groups, whilst Rev Nugroho has called on the government to “intervene” because the municipality violated the supremacy of the law.

    The head of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Indonesia’s largest (and moderate) Muslim organisation, has expressed its support for Bogor Christians and their cause.

    Kiai Hajj Hasyim Muzadi said he is prepared to put pressures on local authorities “to find a valid option to solve the problem rather than focus only on technical issues like the building permit.”

    Indonesia’s parliament has also joined the fray, inviting Bogor municipal officials to Jakarta to discuss the matter at a hearing with lawmakers.

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    See also

    30/01/2012 INDONESIA
    Yasmin Church celebrates Sunday Mass in front of presidential palace in Jakarta
    Hundreds of members of a congregation denied the right to build its own church in Bogor demonstrated in the capital yesterday, calling on the president to do something to uphold the law. They complain about repeated acts of intimidation by radical Muslims, backed by Bogor mayor Diani Budiarto.

    11/07/2011 INDONESIA
    Muslim threats against Yasmin Church in West Java continue
    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.

    03/11/2011 INDONESIA
    Nationalist party censors “anti-Christian” Bogor mayor over Yasmin church
    PDIP leaders threaten non-confidence motion against Diani Budiarto, the Bogor mayor who has denied religious freedom despite a Constitution Court ruling. He has violated the law and rejected Indonesia’s founding principles of Pancasila. For political analysts, the decision represents a major “turning point”.

    14/11/2011 INDONESIA
    Bogor: mayor shuts down access roads to Yasmin Church, thus breaking the law
    The mayor allows Muslim extremists to stop Christians from reaching site of Sunday service. Human rights organisation appeals to President. “Mr President,” its letter says, “you are the last hope for the Yasmin Church to see its rights respected.”

    13/12/2011 INDONESIA
    Bogor: offer to move church may be "a fatal trap"
    The Council of Yasmin Church rejects the Interior Ministry offer to find three alternative sites for the construction of the church opposed by the Mayor of Bogor. After the Supreme Court ruling, in favor of Yasmins Church, "The Ministry of Interior must apply the law, not the contrary."



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