ICC Note: Muslim groups are trying to organize communities against Christian churches in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, following what has become a common pattern. First, rightly or wrongly, the groups claim that churches have been built without proper permits or community support. Then they stir up community members to protest against these churches, no matter whether or not they have the necessary permits or how long they been established in the community.
By Bambang Muryanto
07/14/2015 Indonesia (Jakarta Post)
At least five churches and a religious tourism site in Yogyakarta are on the edge of being forced into closure this year following pressure from local Muslim groups, an NGO has said.
Friends of Freedom of Religion and Association (Sobat KBB) activist Agnes Dwi Rusjiyati said that, as of earlier this month, two churches in Bantul regency, two in Sleman regency, one in Yogyakarta municipality and a Catholic shrine in Gunungkidul regency had received warnings from local Muslim groups. These Muslims groups are protesting against the use of the buildings as places of worship.
The groups, according to Agnes, have also claimed that the churches and the religious tourism site were built without proper building permits and that their request to close down the Christian houses of worship had received support from local Muslim residents.
“Among the five regions in Yogyakarta province, only Kulonprogo regency has no public dispute regarding church establishments,” Agnes told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.
Efforts to close the churches had also been undertaken during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadhan, which began on June 18 and will last until Thursday, she added.
On July 5, representatives from the Yogyakarta Islamic Congregation Forum (FUI) met with Muslim residents in Saman hamlet, Bangunharjo sub-district, Sewon district, Bantul and asked them to stage protests against the establishment of an Indonesian Baptist Church in the area.
“The hamlet chief said that the building had received a building permit application. However, he was unaware that the building was intended to be used as church,” Yogyakarta FUI head Muhammad Fuad said, adding that his organization was ready to help the local Muslims settle the dispute.