Members of a Protestant church have reached a compromise with local authorities, which they hope will end an almost decade-long dispute that has seen devotees staging weekly services outside the presidential palace in Jakarta.
The Yasmin Indonesian Christian Church has accepted an offer by the mayor of Bogor in West Java to build a mosque inside the grounds of the church.
The church was sealed off nine years ago after local Muslims voiced opposition to its presence.
If the congregation wants to reopen their church, they should share a portion of the land and allow local authorities to build a mosque, next to the church, Bogor mayor, Bima Arya Sugiarto said.
If a mosque and church can stand side by side, there will be no resistance from Muslims, he said.
Church members welcomed the compromise.
“We are glad and support the initiative,” a Yasmin congregation spokesman Bona Sigalingging told ucanews.com on Feb. 5.
Mayor Sugiarto’s predecessor froze the Yasmin church’s permit that allowed members to worship in the building in Feb. 2008 and sealed it off following opposition from Muslims.
Despite winning a legal battle in the Supreme Court, the Christians said the mayor refused to allow the church to reopen because of pressure from hard-line groups.
In protest the congregation began in 2012 organizing Sunday services outside the presidential palace in Jakarta, seeking the president’s intervention.
Sugiarto promised he would reopen the church after coming to office in 2014 and presented the congregation with his compromise on Christmas Day last year.
“This is the best solution for us rather than relocation,” he said, referring to previous offers to relocate the church.
Negotiations about how much land will be given over for the mosque has still to be settled.
If Indonesia’s Muslim Jihad on Christian Churches is any indicator, this won’t end well for the Protestants.