08/24/2010, 00.00
INDONESIA
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West Java, Christians celebrate in the streets demanding freedom of religion

by Mathias Hariyadi
The Sunday service of Yasmin Church was held in Bogor. Islamic extremists put pressure on the civil authority that closed their place of worship, even if legal. The liturgical services are held in the streets since April 10.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The faithful of the Gereja Kristen Indonesia (Gki, better known as Yasmin Church), celebrated Sunday church service on the streets of Bogor, West Java. The religious service of protest, which was also attended by activists for inter-religious dialogue was held in front of the Gki place of worship, which was closed by the city illegally on 11 March.

In 2008, Yasmin Church received permission to build a place of worship in Bogor, on the private land of a member of the community. On February 14, 2008, the civil authorities withdrew their permission and ordered the building be closed due to protests by Islamic extremists. After suing the municipality in 2009, Yasmin Church was allowed to keep open a place of worship after the Administrative Court of the State, the highest civil court in the country, found in their favour. The however, the building was closed permanently onthe March 11, 2010 by civil authorities under continuous pressure from Islamic extremists.

Since 10 April, Yasmin Church has celebrated its functions on the street in protest and 22 August the tenth the service was officiated. Gomar Pasaribu, pastor and secretary general of the Synod of Indonesian Churches (PGI), insisted to all the faithful present that profession of one’s religion is "the most fundamental right of every Indonesian citizen. Any hostile action and the slowness of the State to protect it, is a serious violation of the spirit expressed in the Indonesian national motto: Unity in Diversity ".

In a letter sent to AsiaNews, the pastor Ujang Tanusaputra among the leaders of the Yasmin Church, said: "Our founding fathers fought for the independence of this country. Many of them were Christians. The spirit of intolerant extremists have tarnished the good image of Indonesia's pluralistic society. "

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