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    » 04/24/2014, 00.00

    INDONESIA

    Bogor: Christians appeal to new mayor to let Yasmin Church reopen



    On 7 April, Bima Arya Sugiarto replaced controversial Mayor Diani Budiarto, who had the church closed. His decision, which violated a Constitutional Court ruling, was taken under pressures from Islamists. The new mayor now has to put "an end" to abuses against the Christian community, which this year celebrated Easter in the open air.

    Jakarta (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Members of the GKI Yasmin Church appealed to Bima Arya Sugiarto, the new mayor of Bogor (West Java), to keep the promise he made a few weeks ago to reopen their church before the presidential election in July.

    For a long time, the place of worship has been at the centre of a controversy involving local authorities against the city's Christian minority.

    Former mayor Diani Budiarto had had the building sealed in response to demands by Islamic extremists. Even a ruling in favour of the Church by the Constitutional Court in 2010 was not enough to see the building returned to the faithful.

    Bima and his deputy, Usmar Hariman, took office on 7 April. "The matter is now in their hands," said GKI Yasmin Church spokesman Bona Sigalingging. Hence, "we ask them to respect the ruling" of the Supreme Court and "put an end" to the abuses perpetrated for years by the former mayor.

    On Easter Sunday, members of the community along with a delegation from the Batak Protestant Church (HKBP) Philadelphia Bekasi celebrated an outdoor service in front of a government building.

    Like in the past, they tried to raise awareness about their predicament in the general public and the main parties involved in the case.

    A few days ago, Bogor's new mayor pledged he would find a solution to the issue during his inauguration.  "I am optimistic about the possibility of reaching an agreement," Mayor Bima Arya Sugiarto said. 

    Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, has increasingly seen attacks or acts of intolerance against minorities, such as Christians and Ahmadi Muslims as well as members of other faiths.

    Some regulations, like building permits, have been used to prevent the construction of places of worship or close them down, as was the case in West Java with the Yasmin Church.

    In 2006, district authorities had granted the Church all the necessary building permits required by law, only to revoke them under pressure from Muslims encouraged by extremist Islamist groups.

    For many years, local Christians had to conduct religious services out in the open, hoping to see their church returned one day.

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    See also

    04/04/2011 INDONESIA
    Bogor: “war” against Yasmin Church as the faithful pray in streets
    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.

    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.

    04/06/2010 INDONESIA
    West Java: Christians bring their protest to the UN after their Church is closed
    Municipal authorities want to prevent Christians from conducting any public activity. After unsuccessfully seeking remedy with a number of Indonesian agencies, Yasmin Church members are launching an appeal to the United Nations for discrimination and persecution.

    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."

    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”.



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