Clashes broke out Sunday after protesters trying to keep Christians from their church spotted an allegedly offensive bumper sticker on a worshipper's car, causing Muslims to rally around the GKI Yasmin Church in Bogor, Indonesia.
The bumper sticker, which read “we need a friendly Islam, not an angry Islam,” was reportedly a souvenir from the family of late former President Abdurrahman Wahid. As GKI Yasmin spokesman Bona Sigalingging told the Jakarta Globe, the stickers were passed out at the anniversary of Wahid’s death on Friday.
Members of the hardline Muslim group Islamic Reform Movement crowded the GKI Yasmin Church Sunday, protesting the bumper stickers. Police officials arrived to protect the congregation, but church-goers eventually took their New Year's Eve mass to a nearby home to avoid violence.
“Please, I advise other people not to follow [what the protesters are doing]. Let the officers [do their job],” a Bogor Police Deputy Chief Commander Irwansyah said Sunday morning, according to the Jakarta Globe.
The GKI Yasmin Christian Church, located in Bogor, has been a focus of controversy since 2008, when city administration sealed the church because it allegedly did not have the proper permit. In 2009, Indonesia’s Supreme Court determined the facility legal for worship, yet it continues to remain sealed.
Congregants of GKI Yasmin have practiced their religious services on the lawn of the church since 2008.
Cabinet Secretary Dipo Alam said Friday that the government would seek a solution for the conflict surrounding the GKI Yasmin church, telling reporters that “the government will not allow the conflict to continue and will not leave it unresolved. There will be a peaceful and comprehensive solution to it.”
The congregation continues to worship outside as it awaits government action.