Headlines

Religious persecution ‘remains
high’ in West Java: New
study

Violations of freedom of worship and intolerance among different faiths in West Java remained high last year, according to a study carried out by the Institute for Cultural and Religion Studies (INCReS), in cooperation with the Wahid Institute.

“We still saw violations and intolerance among communities in West Java from January to December last year,” INCReS coordinator Dindin Abdullah Ghazali said Monday.

He said INCReS recorded at least 10 violations of freedom of worship committed by the state through its apparatus against citizens and 35 intolerance cases committed by citizens against others.

The violations, Dindin said, included Depok Mayor Nur Mahmudi Ismail’s decision to revoke the building permit of the HKBP Batak Protestant church in Limo, Depok, in March last year.

“The West Java regency administration of Purwakarta also revoked the building permit of the Stasi Santa Maria church in October,” he said.

Examples of religious intolerance, Dindin added, included an incident in June when the Habib Ali bin Abdullah Al Haddad’s religious sect in Depok was deemed to have deviated from Islamic teaching.

Dindin said Bandung, the provincial capital, was rated poorest in terms of religious intolerance, with eight cases reported there.

“Although we didn’t see any violations by the local administration, Bandung topped the religious intolerance list,” he said.

The study went on to list Garut regency, where two violations and two religious intolerance cases occurred, similar to Cirebon and Bogor, while three religious intolerance cases were recorded in Bekasi and Indramayu regencies and Cimahi each.

“The findings show that the government is unable to protect the basic rights of its citizens who wish to carry out their religious practices,” Dindin said.

He noted that the level of freedom of worship was deteriorating and urged advocacy groups to play a greater role.

“We also hope public figures will help develop people’s awareness of religious tolerance,” he said.

The number of cases in 2009 was lower than in 2008. However, the 2009 study was not based on wider parameters as in 2008, which included pornography’s relation to religious interaction.

“The 2009 observation covered a smaller perspective, only looking at violations by the state and intolerance among faiths,” he said.

The annual report will be presented to the West Java legislature in the middle of this month.

With 10 case of violations, West topped the national list, followed by East Java (8), Jakarta (4), Central Java, West Nusa Tenggara, Sumatra (3), Sulawesi (2) and Kalimantan (1).

Post Your Say

Selected comments will be published in the Readers’ Forum page of our print newspaper.