Home Minister Gamawan Fauzi said he had done everything possible to convince Islamic groups that have rejected the presence of the Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) Yasmin in Bogor, West Java, including reminding them that there had been a Supreme Court ruling justifying the church’s presence.
“We have of course negotiated with the groups numerous times. I have even held special meetings with each group to lobby them,” Gamawan said on Monday.
When asked why he did not tell the hard-line groups to just let the congregation pray in the church, as it was every Indonesian citizen’s constitutional right, Gamawan said only that he had done that.
“We said that if there were legal issues surrounding this matter, then let legal processes take their course – but they insisted on their stance,” Gamawan added.
Gamawan said the Bogor municipal administration had prepared four alternative locations where the congregation could pray.
“The Bogor administration will procure the new location while GKI Yasmin will still be owned by the congregation. However, the place should not be used for prayer or Sunday services,” Gamawan said.
“I think everybody’s interest can be accommodated this way. In fact, the GKI Yasmin’s asset will be added free of charge,” he added.
When asked if churchgoers still insisted on praying in their old church, Gamawan said, “It’s up to them. If they insist, there has been a court ruling supporting them; then just go ahead.”
The Bogor administration has banned the congregation from using its church for religious services for more than two years due to questionable permit application issues.
The local administration defied a 2010 Supreme Court ruling guaranteeing the congregation’s right to hold services at the church.