02/10/2012, 00.00
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Double defeat for Yasmin Church: Parliament and Yudhoyono deny them right of worship

by Mathias Hariyadi
In a special session of the Chamber, the delegates of the Christian community are forced to leave the hall. Despite the Supreme Court ruling, faithful denied right hold religious services. For the Indonesian President it is not a matter of "freedom" of worship, but "lack" of a building permit.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – There is anger and dismay among the faithful of the Yasmin Church in Bogor, West Java, driven from a special sitting of Parliament and ignored by the Indonesian President Susilo Yudhoyono Banbang. Despite a Supreme Court ruling authorizing the practice of worship in the church at the center of the dispute, and certification of the legality of the building permit, the difficult road to official recognition of the legitimate rights of the Christian community is becoming increasingly difficult. However, community leaders confirm their intention of wanting to keep fighting and get the authorities' to implement of the law "that guarantees their full rights and freedoms of celebration.

On February 8, Jakarta parliamentarians, government ministers, including the Interior Minister Gamawan Fauzi, the controversial mayor of Bogor Diani Budiarto and the West Java governor Ahmad Heryawansi met to discuss the Yasmin Church (GKI). The meeting was also attended by the leaders of the Protestant community and representatives of civil society, determined to ensure respect for the rights of religious minorities.

During the session, some lawmakers have begun to rail against the GKI followers claiming that they had no right to attend the meeting. Among the chief protesters members of the pro-Islamic Justice and Prosperous Party (PKS). However, Christian sources add that - and this is a further element of concern - the chorus was joined by members of the moderate Muslim United Development Party (PPP). Both called for the expulsion of Christians from the hall.

Meanwhile, Suryadharma Ali - Minister for Religious Affairs, the target of heavy criticism from human rights activists and members of civil society, also spoke stressing that the debate on Yasmin Church "is not an issue of religious freedom "But it is fastened to the" lack of building permits "(IMB). After a rather animated discussion, the delegates of the Christian community were removed from the hall.

Bona Sigalinging, GKI representative, confirmed to AsiaNews the legitimacy of the demands made by the faithful Yasmin Chuch, who are calling for respect of religious freedom guaranteed by the Constitution. The community is in compliance with all building permits, as evidenced by a final judgment of the Supreme Court. She also criticized the behavior of the interior minister, who has proposed the transfer of the church in another town.

For Christian leaders, the crux of teh problem is ensuring the application of the judgment handed down by the highest legal body in Indonesia, although the government, parliament and local authorities are unaware of the provisions. In recent days, however, even President Yudhoyono - in a shock statement issued by spokesman -said he could not "interfere" in the story, because it is a matter of religious freedom, but "lack" of a building permit.
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