Indonesia: Mayor Revokes Church Permit
by Charles Cherry
JAKARTA, Indonesia, May 5 (Compass Direct News) – Church members in Depok city, West Java, are unable to use their church building after the mayor, citing protests from area Muslims, revoked a permit issued in 1998. Under a Joint Ministerial Decree (SKB) issued in 1969 and revised in 2006, all religious groups in Indonesia must apply for permits to establish and operate places of worship. In 2007 members of a Muslim solidarity group from Cinere and neighboring villages damaged the boundary hedge and posted banners on the walls of the nearly finished Huria Kristen Batak Protestan church building in Cinere village, Limo sub-district, said Betty Sitompul, manager of the building project. Mayor Nur Mahmudi Ismail asked the church to cease construction temporarily to appease the protestors. After church leaders and the Muslim group vied for a favorable ruling from the mayor for more than a year, on March 27 he revoked the permit on grounds of preserving “interfaith harmony.” The Rev. Simon Todingallo, head of the Christian Synod in Depok, said the decision breached SKB regulations and resulted from the pressure of a small minority opposed to a church in the area.