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Christians demand 'right to worship'

Protesters take Bogor church dispute with Muslims to president's residence

Christians demand 'right to worship'
Members of the GKI in Taman Yasmin and activists stage a peaceful rally
Konradus Mangu, Jakarta

January 30, 2012

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More than 200 activists and Protestants from Taman Yasmin in Bogor, West Java, gathered outside the presidential palace in Jakarta yesterday to urge President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to return to them “their rights as citizens to worship.” The members of the Christian Church in Indonesia (GKI) say they are still being persecuted by a hardline Muslim groups and being prevented from worshipping in their church. According to GKI spokesman Bona Sigalingging, the national government has not yet seriously dealt with the issue which has been dragging on since they began conducting services in the street after their church was closed down by authorities in 2010. “Attacks against us by the Indonesian Muslim Communications Forum and Islamic Reform Movement are still going on despite security personnel being drafted in to protect [us],” he said. "Instead of talking to us and telling us their complaints they commit acts of violence against us and vandalize our cars when we gather. Attempts by local authorities to safeguard our security while we worship are not working,” he added. The Muslims claim signatures on the church building application were forged by GKI members. Sigalingging refuted this and condemned Bogor authorities for posting “fake information” about the application on its website. The result of this was that a permit which was granted in 2006 was later revoked by officials in 2010. “We want our right to worship,” Sigalingging demanded yesterday. He urged President Yudhoyono to right the wrong committed by the Bogor authorities. “How can the Bogor mayor, who caused this problem, be tolerated?” he asked. Related Reports: Protestants claim persecution Muslims condemn Christian worship ban  

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