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GKI Yasmin church to be reopened, with a catch

The standoff over the Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) Yasmin’s building permit in Bogor, West Java, may be drawing to a end, but with the caveat that a mosque must be built neighboring the church.

Bona Sigalingging, the church’s spokesman, said on Wednesday that conflict resolution between the church’s worshippers and Bogor mayor Diano Budiarto, who suspended GKI Yasmin’s building permit in 2008, had finally reached a “progressive” stage.

“The mayor has agreed with a proposal from the Presidential Advisory Council,” he said after a dispute-settlement meeting with the council and the National Defense Council.

He was referring to a suggestion from the council that to end the disagreement between the local groups, a mosque should be constructed near the church, the building permission of which had already been acknowledged by the Supreme Court in 2010.

According to Bona, the idea was proposed by the council’s member, Albert Hasibuan, who led the meeting.

While Diani was not present at the meeting, Bona said that the mayor was in favor of the proposal, and said that an official letter had been sent to his congregation.

“In the letter, the mayor said that he had proposed the same idea to the church’s followers, but that we had rejected the proposal. This is not true, maybe there were problems with our communication with each other,” he said as quoted by tempo.co.

Although the church had yet to give an official response to the proposal, Bona said that they deemed the idea as “a small, but progressive step” in ending the dispute.

The GKI Yasmin dispute started when the Bogor City Planning and Parks Agency decided to freeze the church’s building permit, citing “the objection from local residents” as the excuse, in 2008.

In 2010, the Supreme Court said that the congregation had the rights to build their church in the area. However, the Bogor mayor did not give the building permit to GKI Yasmin worshippers, and the church building was sealed in 2010.

The church-goers had reportedly been on the receiving end of intimidation from alleged hard-line Muslim groups, which pushed them to not hold services in the church building. (asa)

Source: thejakartapost.com

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