Religion Denied, Justice Denied in Indonesia

By N Mark Castro

Celebrating Christmas in Indonesia can be a tricky thing. On the one hand, the government guarantees in its Constitution the right of every citizen to practice his or her faith.

Chapter XI
Religion

Article 29

(1) The State shall be based upon the belief in the One and Only God.
(2) The State guarantees all persons the freedom of worship, each according to his/her own
religion or belief.

Malls are filled with Christmas decors, Christmas accouterments, and great big Christmas sale. There are mall carolers and even the pipe-in music play Christmas songs. It blows the mind to think that one is celebrating Christmas in the world’s largest Moslem population, which goes to show Indonesia’s commitment to democracy, and its dying state ideology of Pancasila.

There have been hiccups in the past, however, a string of bombings here and there; some FPI raids in the past, but the police force seem to have managed the peace and order in the country in protecting its Christian citizens and guests. That, at least, is a considerable improvement.

But a nagging issue still remains with the continued foreclosure of the controversial GKI Yasmin Church in Bogor.

The facts are simple:

In 2006, the GKI Yasmin legally received a permit to establish it’s House of Worship in Bogor, but the permit was revoked by Bogor Mayor Diani Budiarto after resistance from Muslim-majority local residents. Various accusations have been cited by the Bogor Administration for the license revocation.

The Supreme Court of the Republic of Indonesia, however, ordered its reopening two years ago, but the local mayor, together with the local police, has refused to implement the ruling of the supposed highest court in the land.

What is quite ironic is that the polygamic  Bogor Mayor Diani Budiarto pronounces his Islamic spirituality yet practices a lifestyle counter to the very spirit of the nation he serves.

Under Islamic law, Muslim men can marry up to four wives. Some rich pro-polygamy Indonesians want even more. However, under General Suharto (1967-1998), Indonesia took a stand against polygamy. Polygamous public officials were dismissed.

In order to make matters clearer, Suharto signed into law in 1974 legislation that bans government officials from practicing polygamy, a measure many Indonesians believe was taken because of the influence of Suharto’s wife, Tien Suharto, a very traditional Javanese woman but one opposed to polygamy.

Recently, the entire nation was appalled with the embarrassing actions of another mayor who divorced her 17-year old wife for not being a virgin. He divorced her via text message.

The president himself made a personal order to Interior Minister Gamawan Fauzi to deal with the ‘Fikri scandal’, which gained enough national attention that led to a nationwide indignation that forced the Golkar Party to drop Fikri. Further, moves are currently underway to force the resignation of the said immoral mayor.

And yet, here we are, with the same GKI Yasmin Church denied from celebrating their faith.

Thankfully, other parts of the country allowed for a peaceful celebration among Christians, as reported, with moderate Moslems greeting their fellow Christian citizens or relatives.

The only question is:

When will the president step in?

About Asmartrock

N. Mark Castro is the chief political communications strategist for PT AsiaLeads, a political and communications policy-making body based in Jakarta, Indonesia. He is also the Executive Director at the Southeast Asia Consulting Group, an investment advisory company assisting clients roll out their presence for the ASEAN Economic Integration in partnership with government. The views posted here are his own and do not in any way reflect the views of the companies he represents.

Posted on December 26, 2012, in General, Politics and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. “When will the president step in?”

    I don’t know the answer, Sir. The only thing I know is, he will step out in 2014.😆

    This is an hypocrites country after all. So don’t be surprised.😀

    • Your wit is refreshing and, no, I am not surprised but surely we do not need for the president to step down before action is done on the plight of those people whose rights is his job to protect.

      It’s a shame that he seems to have forgotten that he isn’t the president of the Moslems but the president of Christians. Buddhists, Hindus, and any other person that lives in this country.

      Thanks for the visit!

  1. Pingback: A Fate Deserved: Dismissal of Aceng Fikri « Blink

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