Dozens of members from the GKI Yasmin congregation were denied entry into their church in Bogor on Tuesday morning to hold a Christmas service, after local residents blocked them from entering.
The congregation gathered in front of a supermarket, around 100 meters from the church at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, but about 100 local residents, who have been rejecting their presence since the church first opened in 2006, were already there to block them from entering the church yard.
Up to 300 personnel from Jakarta’s Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) and police officers, as well as military members, were on site to stand guard.
Hendi Iskandar, chief of the Satpol PP team, insisted the congregation members to not hold their Christmas service in the church, adding that the building was still being disputed.
“We’ve provided the building [another venue to hold services] to facilitate services for three days, and we’ll guarantee its safety,” Hendi added, referring to a meeting hall 150 meters from the sealed church.
But the congregation refused to take up the alternative option.
“This is not about where we hold services; that church is our rightful house of worship, and it should be protected by the state,” congregation member Jayadi said.
The GKI Yasmin won a permit to run the church in 2006, but it was promptly revoked by the municipal administration after resistance from Muslim-majority local residents.
The Supreme Court ordered its reopening two years ago, but the local administration has refused to enforce the ruling.