A wooden cross grave marker which was placed over the grave of Albertus Slamet Sugiardi — who was Catholic — in the city of Jogjakarta now resembles the letter “T” after its top third was sawed off, reportedly to appease the Muslim residents — who make up the majority — in the area.
A photo of the sawed off grave marker has gone viral online, drawing public outrage over what many perceive as yet another incident highlighting religious intolerance in Indonesia. As reported by Tempo, the incident began when Albertus’ family buried him in a public cemetery yesterday, where, despite not being a plot of land to be used exclusively by people of any one religion, had only seen the burial of Muslims.
“At first the body of [Albertus] was going to be buried there. The locals agreed to it even though he was not a Muslim, as long as his grave was placed near the edge,” said community leader Bedjo Mulyono.
But Bedjo said the Muslim locals told Albertus’ family not to put up any Catholic symbols on his grave.
“That’s because the locals want to turn the cemetery into a Muslim-exclusive graveyard,” he said.
That said, Albertus’ family already had a wooden cross grave marker prepared, but they agreed to saw the top off at the request of their Muslim neighbors.
“The sawing off of the cross was agreed to by the family to fulfill the request of the residents. And the rules are like that, they have to be like that,” neighborhood chief Soleh Rahmad Hidayat said.
The family, who is reportedly one of only three Christian families in the neighborhood of over 150 households, has so far refused to comment.
Religious intolerance has seemingly been on the rise in Indonesia in recent years. Observers say major political events, most notably the controversial blasphemy case surrounding former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, have emboldened hardline groups and increased faith-based tensions in the country.