News reports and surveys seem to show a steady rise in religious intolerance in Indonesia over the last few years. The latest high-profile instance of intolerance took place in Yogyakarta on Sunday morning when a social event at a local church was cancelled due to intimidation by hardline Islamic organizations,
The Santo Paulus Catholic Church in Bantul was set to hold an outdoor event that morning, one in a series to celebrate the church’s 32nd anniversary, that involved selling cheap packages of staple food items (like rice and sugar) to people the neighborhood. The event was to be held at the home of the local village head.
However, before the event could start, a group of about 50 people from various Islamic organizations including the Islamic Jihad Front (FJI), Muslim Peoples Forum (FUI) and the Indonesian Mujaheddin Council, arrived to demand they cancel the event.
Telah terjadi pembubaran acara bakti sosial dlm rangka catur windu gereja st. Paulus Pringgolayan/Banguntapan,…
Explaining why they would ask the church to cancel an event aimed at helping the less fortunate, FJI leader Abdurrahman accused the church of “Christianization” (a term used locally to describe conspiratorial attempts by Christians to convert Muslims) as they were targeting low-income Muslims.
“Church activities should be done in the church. They should not involve Muslims,” Abdurrahman told Tempo.
The church committee decided to cancel the event in light of the intimidation by the various groups. Police said that no crime was committed as the Islamic groups did not use force and attributed the conflict to a lack of communication.
Rights groups, including the interrfaith Brotherhood of the Faithful Forum, have called upon the Yogyakarta police and government to condemn the incident and take steps to prevent similar acts of intolerance from taking place again.