08/22/2011, 00.00
INDONESIA
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No churches, Bogor mayor against the law and government

by Mathias Hariyadi
Diani Budiarto opposes churches on a street named after Abdullah bin Nuh, a Muslim religious leader. Christian leaders accuse him of pursuing his own political interests rather than upholding the law. Abdullah bin Nuh’s son Muhammad Mustofa has no objection to a Christian place of worship on the street named after his father.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – The refusal to allow the construction of the Yasmin Church, despite a green light from the country’s Supreme Court and government, is the result of the “personal action” of Diani Budiarto. For the latter, “no church will ever be built on an Islamic road” as long as he is mayor.

The decision by Bogor’s mayor (West Java) continues to be controversial. Backed by a multiparty coalition, including the Islamist Prosperous Justice Party, he is opposed to Christian places of worship even though the congregation has all the necessary permits to build one.

The church was slated for construction on Abdullah bin Nuh Street, in the northern part of the city. During a meeting with Interior Minister Gamawan Fauzi, the mayor explained his objection. In his view, no Christian place of worship should be built on streets where Muslims are a majority.

The road in question is named after Abdullah bin Nuh, a famous Muslim religious leader from Cianjur (West Java) who passed away in 1987.

For Diani Budiarto, building a Christian place of worship is an insult to the memory of the Muslim scholar. In reality, Abdullah bin Nuh’s son, Muhammad Mustofa, who is also a religious scholar, said that he was not against a Protestant church on a street named after his father.

Fr Benny Susetyo PR, an activist with the Setara Institute, slammed the sitting mayor’s “bad example”, who appears to be pursuing “his own self-interest and could serve as a negative example that others might follow.”

Bona Sigalingging SH, a lawyer for the Yasmin Church, agrees. Dian Budiarto has “created a new series of problems, ignoring the primacy of the law.”

In Indonesia, places of worship need a building permit (Izin Mendirikan Bangunan). An application requires the signature of 60 local residents.

The Yasmin Church has the right permit, issued by Budiarto’s predecessor. Yet, construction has been disrupted several times by violent action carried out by Muslim extremists (see Mathias Hariyadi, “Christians protest against the new closure of the Yasmin Church in Bogor,” in AsiaNews, 16 March 2011).
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