A mayor in Indonesia is fighting to ban the construction of Christian churches on streets that bear Islamic names, and is prohibiting the use of an existing church in the city of Bogor.
In the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, religious intolerance continues to block the opening of the Taman Yasmin Indonesian Christian Church. The church was supposed to be unlocked in 2008 in Bogor, but the legality of the permit to build was protested by residents.
In December, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Taman Yasmin, and approved the church’s construction. Also, the church recently received a recommendation by the National Ombudsman Institute urging the building’s permit to be reinstated, Charisma News reported.
However, the Mayor of Bogor, Diani Budiarto has been defying the Supreme Court and Ombudsman Commission, and is outrageously pushing for a law that forbids churches to be opened on streets with Islamic names.
“The Ombudsman’s recommendation is only a suggestion,” Tempo magazine reported the mayor as saying.
Members of the Taman Yasmin Church have been congregating on a small strip of land near their sealed-off church, and often have to conduct services while Muslim protestors taunt them nearby.
“They demonstrated and insisted that the church stop services that were already underway,” Bona Sigalingging, Taman Yasmin Church spokesperson said during a press conference in July.
He explained that the mayor sent two letters urging the church to worship 500 meters away at the Harmony Building, but that his church refused to do so.
“We worship in the roadside strip because the mayor has locked and sealed our church, which is against the Supreme Court decision,” said Sigalingging. “If Budiarto had not locked and sealed our church, we would certainly not worship by the roadside.”
Sigalingging believes that “relocation is not the solution” after the Bogor City government offered his church four different locations to congregate. The spokesperson also expressed fear of conflict, and that the situation is “dangerous” as he cited past acts of violence against Christians.
In 2010, there were 64 incidents of violence involving religious intolerance in Indonesia ranging in levels of violence, according to The Associated Press.