Thursday, February 2, 2012




Thirsday, February 2, 2012


-- Religious conflicts and civilizing the civilians

-- GKI Yasmin dispute heats up

-- Address discrimination, GKI Yasmin tells SBY

-- House-govt meeting on GKI Yasmin adjourned – again

-- Banser NU guard GKI Yasmin Christmas mass

-- Blocked by police, GKI Yasmin Christmas mass moves house


Khairil Azhar, Jakarta | Wed, 02/01/2012

Shortly after the proclamation of Indonesian independence in 1945, a mob of Muslims hurriedly moved to Tugu Church in North Jakarta. They wanted to destroy the church since it was understood to be a symbol of colonialism during the Dutch era.

On the arrival of the enraged horde, a Muslim leader, Haji Usman, stood between them and the church. He sensibly took a risk, even with the possibility that he would lose his life. In the end, he climbed a ladder triumphantly. The mob cancelled its plans and dismissed itself.

Haji Usman simply said that euphoria should not be a reason to make a straightforward decision. The independence of a nation, as far as it is generically defined, must allow freedom to all parts of a society. There should even be understanding and clemency granted for all people who previously were categorized as the oppressors.

This Wednesday, almost 67 years later, along some streets and corners in Greater Jakarta, we could see banners that publicly invite us to attend a seminar entitled “Bahaya Desakralisasi”, the dangers of de-sanctifying certain Islamic understandings.

The existence of these banners is, however provocative in sense of religious diversity, guaranteed by the Constitution. They actually say: “be careful of other religions and their adherents and be more careful of other groups of Muslims with their double-dealing teachings.” It wants to say: “let us tell you the truest Islamic teachings and then join us for your good.”

In the name of democracy, especially in relation to the contests between groups in the public sphere, these banners and the seminar might mean the same thing. Yet, in terms of dissemination of religious hatred, it actually violates the sense of security of the victimized groups. Instead of promoting peace, the seminar is usually another repetition of how the majority materializes their afflicting understanding.

Unfortunately, nobody dares to stand up and question the banners and the content of the seminar.

On another side of a Jakarta street, across from Kalibata Cemetery for Heroes, there are three giant banners. We can see no dissemination of religious hatred. They only tell us that there will be a big Islamic event in a near future at the National Monument (Monas) involving Muslim youths, particularly native Jakartans (Betawi).

Yet these banners again represent the existence and “the dignity” of the majority. They assert that the public sphere is becoming the sole property of those who are, religiously, of mainstream and those who are fortunately legalized by the state. We will never see any banners of the afflicted minorities speaking of their own activities, even though many of their ancestors might also be buried at the Cemetery for Heroes.

The unfair contestation over the public sphere, which can alternate with religious violence, will endure as long as there are no referees fairly managing the game. The state, which we should be leaning on in a democracy, despite its multiple institutions and functionaries, also seems so powerless in the face of the majority because of political issues, vested interests and other reasons.

One of the more pragmatic alternatives is, of course, having a stronger (or braver) civil society. All willing proponents of civil society must keep asserting their voices to shape “official” public policies.

However, in the seminar “Police, Civil Society and Religious Freedom”, held in Jakarta on Wednesday, we could unfortunately see how civil society itself seems to have loosened its grip after the 1998 Reform. The relentless violence in the name of religion reflects the failure to establish “a civilized society” and, therefore, “civilized state functionaries”.

The police, subject of much of the blame, would actually play a more pivotal role in the hands of the state if our society had more power to pressure them to act as they should.

Regardless of their many weaknesses, what can the police do, for example, when 30 religious leaders have united to call for the expulsion of Shiites in Sampang, Madura? What choice do they have when a ruling party conversely wants something different from what the constitution and its derivatives stipulate?

Hundreds of figures like Haji Usman are badly needed. Society needs people who really come to comfort the afflicted in a civilized fashion instead of comforting themselves with the suffering of others. We might, for example, need them to police the police forces.

In the time being, we somehow have to depend on existing religious organizations and their influential figures. Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, despite their internal theological disputes related to “blasphemy”, must help to police the frauds in our society. At least then we can see them play important roles in the “religious game of violence”, without any more blood being spilled.

While we are hoping that a critical juncture in our history will happen soon, civilizing ourselves and people around us is another alternative.

Can we, for example, initiate a discussion with our workmates over coffee or with our families at a dinner table about how the future of the children of the Ahmadis in Lombok and the Shiites in Sampang, due to unnecessary religious conflicts, is in jeopardy because they can’t go to school?

The writer is a researcher at the Paramadina Foundation, Jakarta.


The Jakarta Post, Bogor, West Java | Sun, 01/Feb. 2012

Survivors: In this April 12, 2010, file photo, the congregation of the Indonesian Christian Church hold Sunday service in an empty lot in front of their church in Taman Yasmin, Bogor, West Java, after the municipal administration sealed off their church for no known reason. (JP/Theresia Sufa)The atmosphere became heated around the GKI Taman Yasmin church in Bogor, West Java, on Sunday when a number of people tried to prevent the church’s congregation from conducting a Sunday service.

Their attempt was countered by a number of police officers from the Bogor Police and the West Java Police, who erected a barricade between the congregation and the opposing party.

Some of the opposition called out names of the church’s executives.

Please, I advise other people not to follow [what the protesters are doing]. Let the officers [do their job],” Bogor Police deputy chief Comr. Irwansyah said on Sunday morning as quoted by (mtq)



The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Sun, 01/29/2012

Holy protest: Congregation members of the GKI Taman Yasmin church, located in Bogor, West Java, hold a Sunday service in front of the State Palace in Central Jakarta. The service was part of a protest over perceptions of continued repression and intimidation by the Bogor administration, which has refused to uphold a Supreme Court ruling giving the congregation the right to holding services inside the sealed church. (JP/Jerry Adiguna)Hundreds of congregation members of the GKI Taman Yasmin church, which is situated in Bogor, Greater Jakarta, staged a protest on Sunday in front of the State Palace.

They demanded President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono address the continued discrimination and intimidation against the church’s congregation.

We came here so that the highest leader would help settle this problem, for the sake of the supremacy of law and preservation of diversity in Indonesia,” GKI Yasmin spokesman Bona Sigalingging said Sunday as quote by

He said members of the GKI Yasmin congregation still faced intimidation, with two attempts in the last one month by Bogor public order officers and hard-line group members to disperse the congregation during a Sunday service.

We received circular information on behalf of the Bogor Mayor that told us not to conduct services in our church or its surroundings. This is a form of intimidation,” Bona said.

The Bogor administration, which has cited problems with the church’s permit, has barred the congregation from conducting religious services inside the church for more than two years, defying a 2010 Supreme Court ruling that guaranteed the congregation’s right to holding services at the church.

The peaceful protest was held amid pouring rain. Dozens of police officers were seen standing guard. (iwa/mtq)


On Yasmin Indonesian Christian Church (GKI Yasmin) issue has been canceled again.

The House of Representatives adjourned the meeting, which was initially scheduled for Wednesday at 1 p.m., at the request of the government as the relevant ministers had to attend a Cabinet meeting at the State Palace at the same time.

[The meeting has been canceled] because there’s a Cabinet meeting this afternoon,” Deputy House Speaker Priyo Budi Santoso said Wednesday as quoted by

He said that the ministers due to have attended the GKI Yasmin meeting were Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto, Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali, National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo, a representative from the National Ombudsman Commission, West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan, Bogor Mayor Diani Budiarto, GKI Yasmin executives and lawmakers from House Commission II overseeing domestic governance, Commission III on security and VIII on religion.

GKI Yasmin spokesman Bona Sigalingging said the church executives had not been told of the cancellation.

The church representatives have already departed for the House. Ibu Sinta Nuriyah Wahid [wife of former president Abdurrahman Wahid] will accompany us,” said Bona as quoted by

It is the third time the government has canceled meetings to discuss the GKI Yasmin issue; the ones scheduled for Dec. 13 and 16 last year were also canceled drawing criticism from the GKI Yasmin executives and lawmakers about the lax attitude of the government toward the prolonged GKI Yasmin issue. (mtq)


Ahmad Junaidi, The Jakarta Post, Bogor, West Java | Sun, 12/25/2011

Survivors: In this April 12, 2010, file photo, the congregation of the Indonesian Christian Church holds a Sunday service in an empty lot in front of their church in Taman Yasmin, Bogor, West Java, after the municipal administration sealed off their church for no known reason. (JP/Theresia Sufa)Dozens of members of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) youth wing Ansor (Banser NU) guarded the Christmas mass of The Indonesian Christian Church Yasmin (GKI Yasmin) in Bogor on Sunday.

Banser members were seen directing traffic in front of a house on Jl. Cemara, Taman Yasmin, Bogor.

The house was used for the mass as police banned members of GKI Yasmin for conducting the mass in their nearby sealed church.



Ahmad Junaidi, The Jakarta Post, Bogor, West Java | Sun, 12/25/2011

Dozens of members of the Indonesia Christian Church (GKI ) Yasmin joined a Christmas mass in a house at Taman Yasmin Housing complex in Bogor, West Java, on Sunday.

They moved the mass to the house after police banned them from organizing the mass in their nearby sealed church.

Hundreds of police officers closed access to the church on Jl. KH Muhammmad Nuh.

While a handful of protesters staged a rally protesting the church, several inter-faith activists and public figures joined the mass, including singer Glenn Fredly, legislator Lily Wahid and Innayah Wahid, the youngest daughter of former president Abdurrahman Wahid.

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