Local authorities of Kotagede district in Yogyakarta have decided to shut down the Islamic Al Fatah School for transgender students and ban any religious activities from taking place on the premises, citing "public order" issues following pressure from local hard-liners.
The decision was made after a meeting between representatives of Al Fatah, security officers, local officials, the Yogyakarta Islamic Jihad Front (FJI) and local people on Wednesday night.
"We decided to close down the transgender Islamic school considering security, order and public comfort issues," Banguntapan subdistrict chief Jati Bayu Broto told journalists at his office on Thursday.
Each party was given an opportunity to express opinions in the meeting where Al Fatah's leader, Shinta Ratri, and two of her colleagues met with dozens of FJI followers represented by Umar Said.
The meeting then continued as a dialogue between local officials and local people.
Afterwards, the participants of the meeting took the decision to close down the Islamic school with the justification that the school was located in a cramped residential area.
"Whenever there are activities, motorcycles are parked on the street and disturb the public," Jati said.
Members of the FJI had visited the school on Feb. 19, claiming they wanted to find out for themselves what activities were taking place inside the school for transgender students.
Shinta refused to meet journalists following the decision to close the school down.
"I'm sorry. I am psychologically tired. I want to let myself calm down first," she told thejakartapost.com through a text message.
Public attorney Aditia Arief Firmanto from the Yogyakarta Legal Aid Foundation, who represented Shinta, said the meeting was not a dialogue but instead was a judgment forum against the transgender Islamic school.
The organizers suffered psychological abuse, he said.
"There was no clarification in the meeting. Our clients could not defend against the accusations of alcohol, karaoke and other activities at the Islamic School," Adit said, adding that another lawyer from Legal Aid discreetly attended the meeting and saw Shinta raising her hands to make clarifications, but the moderator of the meeting never gave her the chance.
The administration of the Al Fatah Islamic School decided to halt operations following advice from Shinta's family, but not because of the push from the FJI.
"The FJI's pressure is not a legal regulation that must be followed," Adit said.
Former Jagalan village chief Sholehudin said Al Fatah had never reported its activities to officials following its establishment in the village in early 2014 after moving from Notoyudan village in Yogyakarta city.
"But I have never heard any negative reports on the transgender Islamic school. We would know if there were because village officials hold regular meetings," Sholehudin said, adding that he lives near the school and retired in April last year.
FJI troop commander Darohman expressed gratitude that FJI's objection against Al Fatah was supported by the locals.
"The Islamic school may re-open but the transgenders must show repentance," he said. (afr/rin).