Protesters chase parishioners over ‘friendly Islam’ sticker
The atmosphere heated up again around the GKI Taman Yasmin church in Bogor, West Java, when a group of people tried to prevent the church’s congregation from conducting the first Sunday service in 2012 near the sealed church.
But the Bogor Police and the West Java Police countered their attempt by immediately constructing a barricade between the congregation and the protesters.
“Please, I advise other people not to follow [what the protesters are doing]. Let the officers [do their job],” Bogor Police deputy chief Comr. Irwansyah said.
As the members still could not conduct the service near their sealed church, the service was then moved into a house of the church’s members at Taman Yasmin housing complex.
But when congregation members were ready to leave the church in their cars, one of the protestors was enraged after reading a sticker attached on the back window of a car.
GKI Yasmin spokesperson Bona Sigalingging said the protesters chased the car, threatening to set it on fire.
The sticker reads “We need friendly Islam, not extreme Islam.”
“We got the sticker during a ceremony held in remembrance of Gus Dur. Every guest received that sticker,” he said.
Bona said the protesters failed to catch the car that belonged to one of GKI Yasmin’s advocacy team members.
“We are not afraid, and will keep coming to the church to see, even from afar, if the seal has been opened or not,” he said.
Indah Kurnia, a member of the House of Representatives from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), was present during the incident and urged the president to summon Bogor Mayor Diani Budiarto to solve the dispute.
“President [Susilo Bambang] Yudhoyono must do something. It’s not only for Christians, but for all religions, to ensure that they have right to conduct religious activities in their own country,” she said.
Last week, Cabinet Secretary Dipo Alam met with representatives of GKI Taman Yasmin in a dialogue to settle the dispute surrounding the controversial ban on the church’s activities.
The meeting was a follow-up to Yudhoyono’s order to settle the dispute through dialogue.
He said he would report the result to the President but could not guarantee a complete solution to the problem.
The GKI Yasmin church members have been barred from conducting their religious services inside their own building, and even on the street near the church, for more than two years.
Yudhoyono has repeatedly asked Bogor Mayor Diani Budiarto to abide by the Supreme Court ruling, which favored the congregation in the dispute over the church. However, the Bogor administration has insisted on sealing the church despite the ruling, saying that the church’s existence could trigger conflicts with residents living around the site.
During Christmas, the church’s members were prevented from holding Christmas mass in their own church by a group of hard-liners who protested the celebration and police officers who blockaded access to the church on Jl. KH Muhammmad Nuh.
The congregation then moved the Christmas mass into a member’s house.