06/15/2021 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – For fifteen years, Yasmin Church in Bogor, Indonesia has faced legal hurdles and religious intolerance as they have tried to fight for their right to a church building.
ICC reported earlier this month that since 2008, the mayor of Bogor has consistently refused the church permission to construct a building because of a false accusation of forgery on the church’s building permit (IMB). The Supreme Court even ruled in 2010 that Yasmin Church had a legitimate right to continue to construct their half-finished building, yet the mayor continued to deny them access.
For fifteen years, Yasmin Church has held their services outside, sometimes in front of the Presidential Palace, in order to continue meeting together. However, this week the Bogor City Administration announced that it will donate a plot of land measuring 1,668 square meters for the construction of a house of worship for Yasmin Church. The land is located close to where the church was originally intended to be built.
Mayor Bima Arya said on June 13, “After the signing of this donation, the land has come under the ownership of GKI Yasmin. The administration will now wait for documents from GKI Yasmin for an immediate issuance of a building permit (IMB).”
This is a victory for Yasmin Church, although some people also view this as a compromise since the church should have been allowed to build its church in the first place. The dispute between the church and the city has become one of the most renowned denials of freedom of religious expression in Indonesia.
The pastor of Yasmin Church, Tri Santoso, has expressed gratitude that dispute is coming to an end. He said, “This represents the state being there for the Christians of Bogor so we can now worship in peace.”
The Bogor chapter of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), which is the highest Islamic clerical body in Indonesia, welcomed the land donation. “Those who caused unrest do not have Bogor DNA, I’m sure,” stated chapter chairman Mustofa Abdullah.