Hundreds of hard-line Muslims rallied outside the Bogor City Hall on Sunday to decry the “arrogance” of a beleaguered church in the city that remains shuttered by authorities despite a Supreme Court order to open it.
The protesters, from Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia and the Indonesian Muslim Communication Forum (Forkami), said they wanted to show that all Muslims were united in opposition to the presence of the GKI Yasmin Church in the city.
“We’re here to refute the arrogance of the church, which continues to insist on setting up in the Taman Yasmin [housing complex],” said Achmad Imam, the Forkami head in Bogor.
The Bogor administration issued a building permit for the church in 2006, but it revoked it two years later, alleging the church had falsified the signatures required to obtain it.
The Supreme Court ruled in December 2010 that the closure was unlawful and ordered its reopening, but the city administration continues to ignore the ruling. Mayor Diani Budiarto has used several excuses to keep the church closed, most recently saying there should not be a Christian church on a street with an Islamic name.
Church members have been forced to hold services on the sidewalk.
Imam said the mayor had the full support of the local Muslim community in facing down the “lies and tricks of the church members and their supporters, who are trying to pit Muslims against one another through this issue.”
The local branch of the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) also got into the act on Sunday, with branch chairman Muhyiddin Junaidi saying it would be “wise and sensible” for the church to yield to “the feelings of the local believers, specifically Muslims.”
At the sealed-off church, meanwhile, the congregation was prevented from holding services for another week when a group of motorcycle taxi (ojek) drivers blocked off the sidewalk.