Muslim Group Protests Against Church Gathering in Mall

02/20/2020 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – The Islamic Jihad Front (FJI) of Yogyakarta objects a Sunday service taking place at Hartono Mall, located in Depok Subdistrict, Sleman, Special Region of Yogyakarta. They claimed that the church was using the shopping center as a place of worship illegally.

Yogyakarta FJI coordinator Abdulrahman said that initially his office noticed that based on information shared on the official website of the Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) Gejayan, Sleman, the church is gathering at one of the rooms in the mall.

Abdulrahman told reporters, after mediation in Depok District on February 12, “[…] Because on the website, we saw the address of the church [at Hartono Mall], we are questioning the license of the church.”

During mediation, he met with representative from Hartono Mall, who told him that there were no clear permits related to places of worship or churches in Hartono Mall. The representative revealed that there are three rooms used as multifunctional rooms and can be used by anyone, and for purposes like seminars, exhibitions and religious activities.

Depok Sub-District Chief Abu Bakar added, “There (the multifunctional room at Hartono Mall) is usually used for recitation, prayers and also the worship of Christian brothers also there. The point is the building is a multipurpose or multifunctional building. Not a church. It is a multifunctional room.”

It is not uncommon for Indonesian Christian churches to rent rooms at malls or hotels given the challenge of obtaining building permit (IMB) for churches. In the Muslim-majority country, to be able to build a church is extremely difficult and requires lots of buy in from Muslim neighbors. Even if a church has the proper document, sometimes the permit can be revoked if the locals strongly resist their presence.

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