West Java, Muslim and Christian intellectuals against mayor’s attempts to cancel Protestant church
by Mathias Hariyadi
Diani Budiarto, regardless of a ruling by the Constitutional Court, will not guarantee freedom of Christian worship to the Yasmin Church of. Muslim Professor calls on the government to punish the official, but warns that one case of intolerance should not be generalized. Priest recalls the attacks on 47 churches in 2010 and claims the right to religious freedom.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Religious leaders, Muslim and Christian intellectuals, members of Indonesian civil society have all condemned the behavior of the Mayor of Bogor, Diani Budiarto, who continues to ignore the Constitutional Court's decision authorizing celebrations in the Protestant community of Yasmin Chuch (cf. . AsiaNews 14/10/2011 Bogor Yasmin Church controversy: authorities “manipulating” videos to slander Christians). To protect religious freedom and promote tolerance in the country a "strong and authoritative" central executive is needed capable of enforcing the law and the principle of "unity in diversity" on the Pancasila is based even among local officials. Explaining that in 2010 there were 47 cases of attacks or violence against Christian churches, activist Theophilus Bela calls for greater "awareness in society" of the importance of religious freedom and respect for minority rights.
For months the Yasmin Church in Bogor (West Java Province) has been the victim of a blatant violation of law, perpetrated by the local mayor Diani Budiarto who, heedless of the dictates of a constitutional court ruling in favor of Christians, prevents the holding of religious services. The building was designed according to the dictates set by law and has the building permit, the IMB "legal document" needed to authorize house churches or places of prayer.
Professor Azyumardi Azra, dean of the Ciputat State Islamic University (South Tangerang), states that anyone who commits violent acts against other religious groups should be pursued by justice. He condemns the "inertia" of the government in pursuing the Mayor of Bogor, who should be put on trial. However, the teacher warns that a single case can not be considered as "representative" of a general intolerance towards religious minorities in Indonesia. Prof. Azra also warns against Western newspapers, which draw hasty "conclusions" about the growth of indiscriminate persecution of a confessional matrix and the Pancasila as the "best ideology" to a multiethnic society.
Christian activist Elga Sarapung of Interfidei in Yogyakarta, central Java, confirms that the government is obliged to enforce the law, "no ifs, ands or buts”. She reiterates that the Mayor of Bogor should be stopped and removed from the office because he is incapable of "providing security to the people." In contrast, the woman points to the need to strongly promote the concept of "tolerance" and discourage fear of diversity. An opinon shared by Fr. Benny Susetyo, of the Episcopal Conference’s Commission for Interreligious Dialogue, who denounces the lack of "neutrality" in government circles, especially when it comes to issues affecting religious minorities.