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08/12/2022 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – ICC previously reported on an incident where the GPI (Indonesia Pentecostal Church) Tulang Bawang Church in Sumatra was disrupted by local residents during a Christmas worship service.

According to the police, efforts to disband the Christmas worship service were due to the lack of a building permit (IMB), which is required to construct religious venues. Since most Indonesian citizens are Muslim, it is harder for religious minorities such as Christians to obtain such a permit.

Lampung Regional Police detained nine suspects, including the lead perpetrator, Imron. Officials consider the actions taken against the church to violate Articles 156 and 175 of the Indonesian Criminal Code, which stipulate that any hateful, hostile, or insulting actions taken against a religious organization will be penalized.

In February 2022, Brigadier General Subiyanto reported that there was peaceful reconciliation between the church’s pastor, Sopan Sidabutar, and the leading suspect, Imron. This mediation is commonly referred to as Restorative Justice which frees suspects from punishment.

Since reconciling, the church has reportedly obtained an IMB and successfully resumed worship services. According to Pastor Sopan Sidabutar, his hope is that ”harmony and tolerance between the religious [and local] community will [continue into] the future.”

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