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    » 09/11/2012, 00.00

    INDONESIA

    Christian leader cries shame as Minister, Mayor and Islamists close the Yasmin Church

    Mathias Hariyadi

    Meeting decides to expel the Protestant community, despite regular permits and Constitutional Court judgment. YC leaders excluded from meeting and accuse Minister for Interior. A complaint to the police, supported by the Indonesian Churches and human rights activists.

    Jakarta (AsiaNews) - "It's shameful" denounces Bona Sigalingging, spokesperson for the GKI Yasmin Church, reacting to the closed-door meeting between the Minister of Internal Affairs of Indonesia, the leaders of the city of Bogor, West Java, and the leader of an Islamic extremist movement. The gathering has resulted in the expulsion of the Protestant community from their place of worship, despite the possession of regular building permits and a judgment of the Constitutional Court. In response, the leaders of the Christian movement have filed a formal complaint to the courts against the local administration and the mayor Diani Budiarto.

    The meeting was held on September 8 and was atteneded by Gamawan Fauzi, Indonesian Minister of the Interior, Iman Ahmad, head of the Islamic extremist group Forkami, and the mayor of Bogor Diani Budiarto. The minister's decision has caused confusion within the Christian community, in addition to being excluded from the bargaining table, the faithful have had to passively endure the will of both parties  - the local administration and the extremist movement Forkami - who more than any other have "persecuted" the religious minority in recent months.

    Interviewed by AsiaNews Bona Sigalingging, YC spokesperson, branded the decision to invite the leader of Forkami as "shameful". This is a wellknown "radical Islamic group," he adds, that "has fueled tension" and again "has succeeded in having us forcibly removed from our church." The YC leader notes that the decision to close the place of worship is contrary to the judgments of the Constitutional Court and the Ombudsman and that they have filed a complaint with the police. This latest appeal to the courts of justice is supported by the Synod of Indonesian Churches (PGI) and the Working Group on Human Rights, which speaks of "double face" of the government in terms of religious freedom.

    The process for building a church in Indonesia - Catholic or Protestant - is quite complicated and may take five to ten years to obtain all permits required by law. The procedure is governed by the Izin Mendirikan Bangunan (IMB), a species of written protocol that allows for construction to commence and is issued by local authorities.  The story gets more complicated if it is a place of Christian worship: permission must be obtained from a number of residents in the area where the building is to be constructed and the local Group for Interfaith Dialogue. And even if the permission is granted "unspecified reasons" can come into play that will lead officials to block the projects. Often, this occurs after pressure from the Muslim community or radical Islamic movements.

    In late May, the faithful of the Yasmin Church celebrated Pentecost in Jakarta in front of the presidential palace. The Christians gathered near the residence of the head of state of Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono because deprived of their places of worship. For three years, they have not been able to go to church, sealed at the behest of local authorities and the Mayor Diani Budiarto, who denounce alleged irregularities in the release of IBM.

     

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    See also

    29/12/2011 INDONESIA
    West Java: Moderate Muslims defend the Yasmin Church's Christmas
    Hundreds of members of Banser, a paramilitary group, moderate; have protected the Christmas celebrations of the GKI Yasmin Church in Bogor against the threat of radical Islam. Their presence has also been noted in central Java, to protect churches.

    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.

    16/04/2012 INDONESIA
    Jakarta: Hundreds of Christians ask President for justice on places of worship
    "Peaceful" protest launched by the faithful of the Yasmin Church and Hkbp Philadelphia joined by human rights activists and parliamentarians. The faithful ask for enforcement of law on protection of religious freedom. Protests provoked by the seizure of places of worship by local officials and inertia of institutions.

    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."

    03/05/2012 INDONESIA
    West Java, a mosque beside the church, a solution to the Yasmin Church dispute
    This is the proposal that has emerged during the meeting in Jakarta between the parties interested in mediation. The Muslim place of worship, together with the Christian one, reflecting harmony as already is the case in the capital. However, the Mayor of Bogor claims to have advanced this solution in September without receiving any answers; Christian leaders in favor, expect a formal proposal.



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