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Christians in Indonesia Demand the Right to Worship

A Christian congregation in Indonesia is demanding the local government to honor its right to worship in its church.

In 2006, the Taman Yasmin Indonesia Christian Church, also known as the GKI Yasmin Church, followed all the legal procedures before constructing its church in Bogor, a city outside Jakarta. The mayoralty office issued a permit allowing the congregation to proceed with its plan.

Islamic groups challenged the construction of the church. Two years later, the government caved in and cancelled the Christians’ permit.

Despite the court rulings, local authorities made it impossible for the congregation to continue with construction.

The GKI Yasmin Church contested the decree to three judicial institutions and won. The Supreme Court agreed with the two other courts to revoke the mayoralty office’s decree of freezing the building permit, reports The Jakarta Post.

The congregation was allowed to legally have its own church in a predominantly Muslim area in Indonesia, but they still have yet to worship there.

Despite the court rulings, local authorities made it impossible for the congregation to continue with construction.

Alex Paulus, a Christian leader in Bogor, revealed that some Muslims in the area shouted “Kill them, bury them!” at the young Christians. He added that a Christmas service in 2010 was interrupted by locals and forced the Christians to leave the premises.

Bogor’s mayor relocated the church, saying Muslims expressed interest in building a mosque in the same area. The administration even had put up barricades around the new church compound and prohibited anyone from going inside.

Members of GKI Yasmin church had no choice but to hold Sunday classes in front of the compound, making them an easy target for threats and attacks.

Alex Paulus, a Christian leader in Bogor, revealed that some Muslims in the area shouted “Kill them, bury them!” at the young Christians. He added that a Christmas service in 2010 was interrupted by locals and forced the Christians to leave the premises.

Meantime, Andreas Harsono, a Jakarta-based researcher for Human Rights Watch, said other countries may claim that the Asian nation is tolerant of all religions, but it was far from reality. He disclosed that there were at least 1,000 churches which were closed down by the government in the past decade.

Local officials may have been harassing the GKI Yasmin church, but Paulus kept on praying and believing that the church would open. He said he would continue to fight the administration, saying, “Because we have permission. It’s our right.”

Sources:
WGBH News
The Jakarta Post

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