The governor of West Java and an Islamic leader are among those who denounced religious discrimination towards a church, which was on a humanitarian mission to provide aid to survivors of the devastating earthquake in Cianjur Regency.
Footage recently circulated showing several men tearing off signs belonging to the church from aid tents.
Local police said the men belonged to an Islamic mass organization who went on a crusade against any form of self-promotion by aid-givers in order preserve “religious neutrality” among charity organizations present in Cianjur. Though they tore off the church’s sign, police said they did not refuse the aid from the house of worship.
West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil shared the video on his Instagram yesterday, not to condone the discrimination but to demand police take action against the group.
“This is extremely regrettable and it cannot happen again,” Ridwan wrote in the caption.
“Disasters do not discriminate and [the quake] has impacted everybody, every party and every group in the Cianjur we love.”
Ridwan also pushed back against the self-promotion rhetoric, saying that it’s normal for aid-givers to label their property on the ground as a form of accountability towards their donors.
The incident prompted some accusations of “Christianization” (a term used locally to describe conspiratorial attempts by Christians to convert Muslims) by the church, which was shut down by one of the most respected Islamic figures in the country.
“That was immature. We must be able to differentiate between humanitarian activism, social activism with Christianization,” said Said Aqil, former chairman of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), one of the largest Islamic organizations in Indonesia and the world.
As of this article’s publication, local police have yet to launch an investigation into the incident.
A 5.6-magnitude earthquake shook Cianjur on Nov. 21, destroying thousands of homes and buildings. As of the morning of Nov. 28, 321 people have been declared dead while the search continues for dozens still missing. More than 70,000 have been displaced from their homes and are taking refuge at shelters.