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Jakarta Post

Vandalized building in North Sulawesi not mosque, authorities say

  • Agustinus Hari

    The Jakarta Post

Manado   /   Fri, January 31, 2020   /   10:14 am
Vandalized building in North Sulawesi not mosque, authorities say A screenshot from a viral video circulating on social media purports to show an act of vandalism in the Agape housing complex, Tumaluntung Village, North Minahasa regency, North Sulawesi, on Wednesday. (JP/Screenshot)

Local security personnel have asserted that a building vandalized in the predominantly Christian Agape housing complex in Tumaluntung village, North Minahasa regency, North Sulawesi, on Wednesday evening is not a mosque.

“It is not a place of worship, but a public meeting hall in the housing complex that was vandalized by a group of people on Wednesday evening,” Bitung Military District Command commander Lt. Col. Kusnandar Hidayat said on Thursday.

The incident went viral after Twitter user @MohCipto1 uploaded a video showing a group of people taking apart furniture and fixtures while wearing shoes and sandals inside the building. They appeared to be followed by onlookers who were recording the incident on their smartphones.

The footage briefly shows a banner in front of the building, which reads, “We residents of Tumaluntung village oppose the construction of this mushola/mosque in our area because 95 percent of the residents around the mosque are non-Muslims. We don’t want loudspeakers to disrupt our everyday lives, and we don’t want to be charged with blasphemy for complaining about the noise.”

The building, identified on Google as Al-Hidayah Mosque, has been the subject of controversy among local residents in recent years.

Read also: Videos surface purportedly showing vandalization of N. Sulawesi 'mosque'

Kusnandar said the incident broke out due to false information suggesting an unidentified individual dressed as a member of radical group Jamaah Tabligh came to the building. The information sparked a misunderstanding between local residents which led to the incident.

“Military and police personnel were immediately dispatched to the scene. Everything is safe now,” Kusnandar went on to say.

As of Thursday evening, military and police personnel were still guarding the scene.

North Minahasa Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Grace Krisna D. Rahakbau deplored the incident, saying that he thought residents of the regency were “very kind-hearted”.

He added that police had arrested a resident after the incident. He did not mention the reason for the arrest.

North Minahasa Regent Vonnie Panambunan said she had held a meeting with the Regional Leadership Communication Forum (Forkopimda) regarding the act. She agreed it was caused by a misunderstanding.

“We also agree that a mosque will be built on the land after the necessary documents are completed. All activities in the meeting hall are suspended for now,” she said. (kuk)