Ahmad Faiz, Jakarta – Minister of Religious Affairs Fachrul Razi said that regional heads must not prohibit people from worshipping according to their respective beliefs. The minister said that the Indonesian constitution guarantees freedom of religion and worship.
"They must not do that. Even if [the regional head] says that it is based on the agreements; that would be a lex specialis thing. You can't do that. The mandate of the constitution says no to lex specialis," Fachrul said after meeting President Joko Widodo at the State Palace, Thursday, December 26.
In the regencies of Dharmasraya and Sijunjung, West Sumatera, Christians were prohibited from holding a Christmas mass. It was later reported that the Christian and Catholic congregations in Jorong Sungai Tambang, Nagari Kunangan Rarik Rantang, Sijunjung Regency, were allowed to hold Christmas masses and celebrate New Year's.
The Dharmasraya Regency Government denied reports that their district prohibits Christmas celebrations. District secretary Adlisman said that he respected the agreement between community leaders Nagari Sikabau, Pulau Punjung District and Christian transmigrants from Jorong Kampung Baru.
Both sides agreed to worship according to their religion and beliefs in their respective homes. But, Adisman said, when done in large groups or bringing congregation from other districts, the activity must be done in an official place of worship.
Adisman said the agreement was made as religious leaders were concern that conflicts similar to what happened in 1999, between Christians in Jorong Kampung Baru and ninik mamak (customary institutions) from Nagari Sikabau, would happen again.
"Conflicts would only aggrieve both sides," he said in a written statement.