Shut-Down Indonesian Church Told It Can Reopen - If It Shares Land With A Mosque


An Indonesian worker cleans the pews at the main cathedral in Jakarta, Indonesia. A shut-down church in Bogor, 60km south of Jakarta, has now been told it may repoen.Reuters

A shut-down church in Indonesia has been told that it may reopen – if the church agrees to share their land with a mosque.

The Yasmin Indonesian Christian Church was shut down by the mayor of Bogor, West Java nine years ago, due to vocal opposition from local Muslims. Last week the church accepted a compromise offer from the mayor to reopen their old grounds, and have a Muslim mosque share the land, as UCAN reports.

The new mayor, Bima Arya Sugiarto said that if the two religious communities could stand side by side, then there would be no resistance from Muslims.

'We are glad and support the initiative,' Yasmin congregation spokesman Bona Sigalingging said.

The protestant community had their permit for worshipping in their building frozen in February 2008, by Bogor's previous mayor, due to opposition from some Muslims. In 2010 The Indonesian Supreme Court affirmed the group's right to freedom of worship, but the mayor did not reopen the church.

As a protest in 2012 the Yasmin community started holding their services outdoors in front of the presidential palace in Jakarta, where they have since held more than 100 services, as World Watch Monitor reports. In 2014 the new mayor - Sugiarto - was elected, who had made a campaign promise to reopen the church. There are still details to be confirmed about the new arrangement, but the promise has now been fulfilled and the offer accepted.

'We hope the problem for our church and also of other churches with similar problems will end soon,' said local Yasmin pastor Rev Sony Dandel. He encouraged other Indonesian Christians to stand up for their civil freedom.