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Christians protest with postcards to president

Messages call for free worship ahead of Christmas

Christians protest with postcards to president
Some of the postcards delivered to the government
Ryan Dagur, Jakarta

December 10, 2012

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Protestants at two churches in West Java have sent 6,000 postcards to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, urging the end of restrictions on worship ahead of Christmas.

A member of GKI Yasmin, one of the two restricted churches along with the Batak Society Christian Church (HKBP) Philadelphia in Bekasi, handed the postcards to the State Secretariat yesterday after holding a service in front of the Presidential Palace in Jakarta.

The two congregations have had to celebrate recent Christmases in fear outside their places of worship, said Bona Sigalingging, a GKI Jasmin spokesman.

“The postcards are part of our struggle to urge the president to end the discrimination we have faced,” he added.

Sinta Nuriyah, wife of the late former president Abdurrahman Wahid who ruled until 2001, was among those that sent a postcard.

“Worshipping is the right of every Indonesian citizen. So I hope President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono enforces this right,” she wrote. “Give this right to our friends, the congregations of GKI Yasmin, so that they can worship in their own church.”

Members of the congregation at GKI Yasmin have been banned from using their church because of alleged irregularities in a 2006 building permit.

Despite a Supreme Court ruling backed by the Ombudsman supporting the church, the local mayor has continued to bar access to the building amid widespread opposition by majority Muslims in the area.

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