This is the same mayor who earlier decided that churches can’t be built on streets with “Islamic” names. How higher levels of government respond to this latest escalation will determine whether we see more officials like Mayor Budiarto emerge in Indonesia. Behavior that is rewarded by inaction is likely to be repeated and intensified, as Budiarto’s own track record in Bogor has shown.
“Moderate” Indonesia is paralyzed with indecision for the sake of saving face: it does not want to make a high-profile, public decision that would stop Muslims from enforcing Sharia over the constitution. It wants legislation that looks good on paper, and to have the dust settle quietly in practical matters at some point. When Islamic supremacists gain sufficient strength, the legislation will catch up.
“Bogor: mayor shuts down access roads to Yasmin Church, thus breaking the law,” from Asia News, November 14:
Bogor (AsiaNews) — Bogor Christians celebrated Mass at home yesterday. After the ban on meeting at their church, members of the Yasmin Church (KGI) were not allowed to hold their Sunday service in the street. Despite criticism and international focus on the case, Bogor Mayor Diano Budiarto continues to refuse to bow to public opinion and a court order. In his latest action, he has exceeded his authority and blocked all access roads to the Yasmin Church. A dozen of local plainclothes security agents and uniformed police did not however prevent anti-Christian extremists from blocking one access road to the place of worship. In the end, Christian worshipers went to the home of a parishioner to celebrate Sunday service.
This is the first time in months that this happens since Budiarto” decision to freeze the construction of the church despite the fact that the congregation had all the right permits.
In a message to AsiaNews, a KGI spokesman, attorney Bona Sigalingging, said that opposition to the church comes from the Muslim Indonesia Communications Forum (Forkami), an organisation chaired by Ahmad Iman, a local extremist.
In a number of fiery speeches against the Yasmin Church, the latter has claimed that KGI leaders falsified the signatures by residents on the application for a construction permit in order to pursue their goal of building the church.
In Indonesia, a construction permit is necessary and requires a certain number of signatures by local residents before it is issued.
Sigalingging dismissed the charge out of hand. “This accusation is false,” he said.
The Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation is expected to act too. Its president, Todung Mulya Lubis, a well-known figure in the human rights field, has written to President Yudhoyono, asking him to exercise his constitutional prerogatives and uphold the law.
The time has come that “you, Mr President apply the law without preferences as stipulated by the constitution and that every citizen comply with the law.”
The Yasmin Church is in a desperate situation, Lubis added, since court orders have been ignored using different legal means in order to revoke the building permit, and that the mayor appears bent on pursing his path, no matter what happens.
“Mr President, you are the last hope for the Yasmin Church to see its rights respected,” Lubis said in his letter.
President Yudhoyono’s past comments on violence against Christians over the building with churches have tended to downplay the situation, sounding more like he was discussing a homeowners’ association dispute.