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Muslims condemn Christian worship ban

Voicing support for worshippers forced to break into their own church

Muslims condemn Christian worship ban
People carrying a banner saying
Konradus Epa, Jakarta

March 14, 2011

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Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama (NU),the country’s second largest Muslim organization, expressed concern at the level of intolerance shown in the recent ban of Taman Yasmin fellowship in Bogor, West Java. “NU is concerned about the attitude of intolerance, especially of radical Muslim groups. NU is against groups spreading hatred through sermons,” said Imanuddin Rahmat, deputy secretary of the organization’s central board at a March 14 press conference in Jakarta. Christians in Bogor say local authorities have been flouting a court order by continuing to try toprevent them from worshipping in their church. "Police have barred us from praying in our church and have even blocked the entrance," Bona Sigalingging, an official of Taman Yasmin Church, said. Sigalingging said a January supreme court ruling cleared the way for them to use their church after a lengthy legal battle. But on March 6, when they tried to use it, local authorities and police locked the church’s doors and there were reports that on Sunday the group had to break into the building in order to hold morning Mass. “Barring us from the church is in defiance of the law and goes against the constitution,” Sigalingging said. “We have asked local NU scholars to dialogue with minority groups including GKI Yasmin,” continued Rahmat. The Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI) has urged the authorities in Bogor to revoke the prohibition of worship and suspension of building permit of GKI Yasmin. “PGI strongly condemns local government’s freezing the church’s building permit,” said Reverend Jeiry Sumampauw, a PGI official, reading out statement yesterday. Reverend Sumampauw also slammed city mayor Diani Budiarto who he claimed never fulfilled her promise to follow the supreme court’s order and remove the church’s padlock and seal. Fatmawati, lawyer of GKI Yasmin community, said the existing conflict “is not the problem of GKI Yasmin alone, but a national problem.” She also mentioned that since 2008 the community has 24 times conducted worship at the roadside. “We will not move and continue to build our church because our building permit is legal,” she said. Reverend Gomar Gultom, general secretary of PGI, warned that the proposed church relocation could “compartmentalize religious groups.” IJ13637.1645

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