Persecuted Indonesian Congregation Refuses to Relocate

Religion Today

Persecuted Indonesian Congregation Refuses to Relocate


Bogor City, 60 kilometers south of the Indonesian capital Jakarta, is reported to be one of the world’s most densely populated areas. And, although not an Islamic state, Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation, with 86.1 percent of Indonesians being Muslim, according to the 2000 census. In April 2010, Bogor’s Taman Yasmin Indonesia Christian Church (GKI Yasmin) was closed by order of the mayor and city government. In December of that year, the Indonesian Supreme Court affirmed the church's constitutional right to freedom of worship; however, the mayor refused to reopen the church. The Indonesian Ombudsman’s Office also urged the Bogor city administration to withdraw its later 2011 decree annulling the church’s construction permit. But now, in the latest twist in the long-running saga, Indonesia’s Interior Minister, along with the Bogor City authorities, decided at a meeting in September that the church would not reopen, but instead should relocate about 7 kilometers away, Open Doors News reports. In addition to the mayor and Interior Minister, representatives of the Muslim Communications Forum (Forkami) – a hard-line religious group known for its stance against GKI Yasmin – attended the meeting. Understandably, the church is refusing to comply with this order. "No matter where, no matter how beautiful or how expensive the new location, we will not accept," said the GKI Yasmin spokesman, Bona Sigalingging. He said if the church was evicted it would mean that the rule of law in Indonesia has collapsed. "There will be a separation and segregation based on racial intolerance. It means betraying Bhinneka Tunggal Ika." Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, the motto of Indonesia, means "Unity in Diversity."

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