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Protestants claim persecution

Muslims are attacking them just because they want a building permit, they say

Margaretha Krismi, Jakarta
Indonesia

October 31, 2011

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Protestants in Taman Yasmin in Bogor, West Java, say they are being persecuted by members of a hard-line Muslim group According to the Christian Church in Indonesia (GKI), members of the Indonesian Muslim Communications Forum (Forkami) tried to stop a Sunday service yesterday being conducted on the sidewalk outside their church building, which was closed by local authorities last year. Church members were subjected to verbal abuse and intimidation, a spokesman said. Two weeks ago, several Protestants were attacked by members of the Muslim group, who beat them with rattan sticks. The Muslims claim signatures were forged by GKI members in a recent attempt to get a building permit. “It is not funny. All they are doing is trying to get official permission to use the church and someone is using this to attack them,” said Haris Azhar, coordinator of the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence, in Jakarta. “There are people trying to gain from these incidents,” he said. Seeking a building permit, he added, should not be a reason “to deny the most fundamental right of every citizen, which is to worship.” GKI spokesman in Taman Yasmin, Bona Sigalingging said they had a building permit in 2006 but the local authorities revoked it early last year, saying we had forged signatures on that application too. “The authorities and Forkami keep making this false accusation,” he lamented. He said the central government earlier this month annulled the decision to withdraw the building permit. “We are disappointed the local authorities have ignored this,” he asserted.
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