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Jakarta Post

'This is community consensus': Yogyakarta villagers destroy cross on public cemetery

  • Bambang Muryanto

    The Jakarta Post

Yogyakarta   /   Tue, December 18, 2018   /   04:38 pm
'This is community consensus': Yogyakarta villagers destroy cross on public cemetery The cross-shaped headstone on Albert Slamet Sugihardi's grave at the public cemetery in Purbayan, Yogyakarta, was destroyed by residents objecting to Christian symbols. (JP/Bambang Muryanto)

Villagers of Purbayan in Kotagede, Yogyakarta, have cut off the cross on a Christian’s grave, saying the religious symbol was not welcome in the village.

“This is community consensus. He could be buried here, but there should be no Christian symbol,” Bejo Mulyono, a local figure, told reporters on Tuesday.

The deceased Christian, identified as Albertus Slamet Sugihardi, was a resident of Purbayan. He worked as a driver for the Red Cross until he died of a heart attack at the age of 63 on Monday. He was buried at the Jambon public cemetery.   

Bejo said the majority of Purbayan residents were Muslims, and those buried at the local cemetery were Muslims. Slamet, he said, was allowed to be buried at the cemetery “because of an emergency”, but the cross on his grave had to be cut down.

Also, Slamet could only be buried in the periphery of the cemetery, he added.

“In the future, this will be a Muslim-only cemetery,” he declared.

The residents also did not allow Slamet’s mourning relatives and friends to hold prayers at the deceased’s house, forcing them to hold it at the nearby Pringgolayan Saint Paul Church.

“Our village is tolerant, except for religious rituals,” Bejo said.

He argued that non-Muslims were prohibited from holding prayers to avoid conflicts with residents who objected to such religious activities.

He claimed that Slamet’s family had accepted the rule, showing what he says was a statement from Slamet’s wife, Maria Sutris Winarni, that she accepted the rules and would not make an issue of the matter.

Agustinus Sunarto, the local church official, confirmed the incident on Tuesday, saying the mass had been held at the church.

Winarni declined to comment on the incident.

“I am still sad,” she said.

Yogyakarta Interfaith Brotherhood Forum secretary-general Timotius Aprianto deplored the incident, saying religious pluralism was only recognized formally but not substantially embraced by society.

“We will hold a meeting with the Kotagede community,” he said.

The Yogyakarta Police, meanwhile, said they were investigating the incident.