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Jakarta Post

Police, officials call for calm over minaret row in Jayapura

  • Nethy Dharma Somba

    The Jakarta Post

Jayapura   /   Mon, March 19, 2018   /   07:37 pm
Police, officials call for calm over minaret row in Jayapura Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin (Antara/Wahyu Putro A)

The Jayapura Police said Monday that security in the regency and in Papua in general was under control after the Jayapura Churches Association protested via letter the height of the Al-Aqsa Mosque minaret in Sentani, Jayapura regency.

The minaret row did not affect the security there, the police said.

“People carried on with their activities as usual, unfazed by the letter,” Jayapura Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Victor Dean Mackbon told The Jakarta Post on Monday. The regency administration, the police and the interfaith forum in Jayapura have been in talks to resolve the conflict.

The executive head of Nahdlatul Ulama in Papua, Toni Wanggai, called for everyone, especially Muslims, to keep calm and not let the protest provoke them. He said his organization was in talks with the church association and the Jayapura administration.

“We are sure we can find a good solution. Papua has a good track record of communicating and finding solutions to problems,” Toni said Monday.

He said the letter was likely issued after a communication impasse.

John Gobay, a Papuan councillor, said the protest from the church did not damage interfaith relations in Papua. “I think it is about some miscommunication,” he said. “We hope this is not going to be like in other provinces, where groups reject the construction of worship places of other religions."

Aman Hasibuan, a Sentani resident, said he went on with his regular activities as normal and believed others did the same.

Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin said Sunday that the protest could be followed up with dialogue. The ministry’s press release stated that the letter included a demand to dismantle the minaret because it was higher than the churches in the area. In the letter, the association said it wanted the minaret to be lower.

“I have communicated with Muslim figures in Papua, the head of Indonesian Communion of Churches and the Papua Interfaith Forum to settle the matter,” he said.

He said in settling the matter, everyone must follow prevailing laws, customary laws and local values.

Signed by the head of the Jayapura Churches Association, Robbi Depondoye, the association gave a 14-day deadline to the regency administration, or else they would take their own action.

In July 2015, there was a dispute between Christians and Muslims during Idul Fitri in Tolikara regency, Papua. Following the arrival of the police, a number of warning shots were fired and the situation deteriorated into a riot. A number of kiosks and houses and a small prayer room were burned down in the incident. One victim was killed and 11 others were reportedly injured by gunfire. (evi)

 

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