Published: 16:00 GMT Daylight Time - Wednesday 24 August 2011
Church can’t open on street with Islamic name – Indonesian mayor
Country/Region: Indonesia, South and East Asia
An Indonesian mayor is refusing to allow an embattled church in his city to open, saying that churches should not be built on a street with an Islamic name.
The spurious argument is the latest attempt by Bogor Mayor Diani Budiarto to block GKI Yasmin Church, in defiance of rulings from the Indonesian Supreme Court and Ombudsman Commission.
The congregation has been holding services on the street – named Jalan Abdullah bin Nuh, after an Islamic leader from West Java – in front of its half-constructed church since its building permit was revoked in 2008. Bogor city chiefs, spearheaded by the mayor, have refused to comply with a Supreme Court order issued in December 2010 that the church be reopened.
Now, Mayor Budiarto has told Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi that a church should not be built on a street with an Islamic name.
Church spokesman Bona Sigalingging said that the mayor’s reasoning was unacceptable given that a number of churches were built on streets with Islamic names and mosques were built on streets with Christian names.
Ombudsman Commission chairman Danang Girindrawardana backed the church, saying that the Ombudsman’s recommendation was legally binding and that the street name issue was a “made-up excuse”.
Local cleric Muhammad Mustofa, after whose father the street was named, said that he has no objection to the church. But the congregation’s outdoor services have been opposed by local Muslims, who have disrupted their worship with demonstrations.
The home affairs minister was due to summon Mayor Budiarto this week to discuss possible solutions to the conflict. It seems likely that Mr Fauzi will side with the mayor out of concern to “maintain security and peace.”
Bogor city chiefs have tried to move the congregation to another building, but Mr Sigalingging said the church would not accept any offer of alternative premises:
The problem is it [is] against the law, against the court ruling and against the recommendation of [the] Ombudsman.
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