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01/26/2012 Indonesia (Jakarta Globe) – Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali said on Wednesday that the GKI Yasmin church dispute did not come under his jurisdiction, insisting that since it involved a building permit, it was the responsibility of the Home Affairs Ministry.
“The Yasmin problem is a legal matter and legal conflicts should be settled by law,” the minister said.
He added that he did not want the conflict to be linked to religion and the ministry would offer no further comment.
“This case will be settled by the mayor, and if he is not able, then by the governor and finally by the Home Affairs Ministry,” Suryadharma said.
He said his ministry had approached the Yasmin congregation and offered a new location for its church but had that offer turned down. He suggested it reconsider.
The GKI Yasmin church has been illegally sealed off by the Bogor city administration on the pretext that the congregation doctored a petition needed to obtain a building permit.
Since 2008, the congregation has been forced to hold Sunday services on the sidewalk outside the church or in the homes of parishioners.
On Wednesday, the GKI Yasmin congregation, joined by the Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity) Forum, came to the National Police headquarters to seek protection so their Sunday worship could proceed smoothly.
“From early on during our Sunday worship, there were some 1,000 policemen on guard, in full uniform with a water cannon. But they did nothing,” forum coordinator Mangapul Silalahi said.
The police, he said, stood by when members of the hard-line Indonesian Muslim Communication Forum (Forkami) and Islamic Reform Movement (Garis) groups brandished wood and bamboo sticks and came close to injuring lawmakers who were among the members of the congregation.

Jayadi Damanik, legal counsel for GKI Yasmin, said it had visited the Bogor Police deputy chief to demand firm action to safeguard its worship activities but nothing had changed.
“If we cannot [worship] in church, on the sidewalk or inside a home, just kill us so that we can be buried,” Jayadi said.
 
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