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Jakarta Post

Residents, Muslim groups attack Yogyakarta church

  • Bambang Muryanto

    The Jakarta Post

Yogyakarta   /   Mon, June 2, 2014   /  09:53 am
Residents, Muslim groups attack Yogyakarta church

On the warpath: A group of men, some with their faces covered, attack a Christian church in Pangukan, Sleman, Yogyakarta, on Sunday. Yogyakarta, the cradle of Javanese civilization and renowned as a place of tolerance, has witnessed a rise in violent incidents in recent months. A number of people have called on the police to take strong action against violent groups. Courtesy of Kompas/Haris Firdaus

On the anniversary of the introduction of the state ideology Pancasila on June 1, an act of intolerance occurred in Yogyakarta as residents and members of Ormas (mass organizations) attacked a Pentecostal church in Pangukan, Sleman regency, on Sunday.

The group stoned the church, which had been vacated by its congregation after Sunday Service, destroying the building'€™s glass windows.

Police and military officers were powerless to stop the violent act. The regency'€™s public order officers installed zinc fences after the police inspected the area.

Turmudzi, board member from the Islamic study group, Majelis Ta'€™lim Al Huda said that local residents, along with members of the Islamic Jihad Front (FJI) and Islamic People'€™s Forum (FUI) were responsible for damaging the church.

'€œThe reason is not related to worship. We attacked the church because it has no building permit,'€ Turmudzi, who suffered injuries to his hands after stoning the church, claimed.

Separately, Sleman Deputy Regent Yuni Satya Rahayu admitted that the administration had not granted a building permit to the church, saying that the church board faked signatures of local residents to fulfill the requirements of the permit.

'€œThe development of the church has been problematic since the beginning. Rev. Nico Lomboan was not fair to the local people, whom he wanted to build the church,'€ Yuni told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

She said Sunday'€™s incident was the third such act since the construction of the church began, before the administration sealed the building in 2012.

Nico and members of the church'€™s congregation could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

This is not the first time that the FJI has been implicated in religious-based violence in Yogyakarta. On March 30, the group'€™s members reportedly attacked the Kemah Injil Indonesia (GKII) church in Girisubo district, Gunungkidul

The group members also allegedly assaulted Gunungkidul Interfaith Forum chairman Aminuddin Aziz on May 2, following his statements on an online forum about the FJI'€™s alleged involvement in damaging the GKII church.

Yuni claimed that the vandalism against the Pentecostal church was different to the attack that occurred in a house in Sleman on Thursday evening against a group of Catholics who were conducting rosary worship.

In that incident, men wearing gamis (long clothes) beat the owner of the house, Julius Felicianus, who is also the director of Galang Press, as well as several women and an 8-year-old boy. Kompas TV reporter Michael Aryawan, who reported the attack, was also injured.

So far the police have arrested one man, identified as KH, for his involvement in the attack, but have promised to continue searching for the other perpetrators.

'€œWe have questioned witnesses and victims,'€ Yogyakarta Police spokesperson Adj. Sr. Comr. Anny Pudjiastuti said on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Michael said the police should not have difficulties in identifying the attackers, as two police officers witnessed the attack.

'€œThe two police officers [were there] with Julius,'€ Michael said on Saturday.

The attack has raised concerns at local and national levels, with the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) warning of the increase of intolerance in the region.

Sociologist M. Najib Azca said the government, as well as moderate Muslim organizations such as Nahdlatul Ulama, and Muhammadiyah, should work hand-in-hand to stamp out intolerance in Yogyakarta.

Recently, Yogyakarta Governor Hamengkubuwono X received an award from the Indonesian Inter-Faith Network (JAII) for his success in maintaining pluralism in the province.


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