Jakarta – The Setara Institute for Peace and Democracy has reminded President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo that there is still widespread opposition to minority groups performing worship and the establishment of houses of workers in several parts of Indonesia.
Setara Institute research director Halili Hasan said that the factual situation is that the problems of performing worship and establishing places of worship in Indonesia are far more serious than conveyed by Widodo.
"It needs to be pointed out that the factual situation on problems of performing worship and establishing places of worship in Indonesia are more serious than what was conveyed by the President", said Hasan in a press release on Tuesday January 17.
Hasan noted that between 2007 and 2022 there were 573 incidents of harassment related to performing worship or places of worship. This harassment targeted minority groups and ranged from disbanding or opposing worship, rejecting places of worship, intimidation, vandalism to arson.
"There were 573 incidents of harassment of worship and places of worship over the last decade", he said.
Hasan is urging Religious Affairs Minister Yaqut Cholil Qoumas and Home Affairs Minister Tito Karnavian to abolish the discriminative stipulations in Joint Ministerial Decree (SKB) 2.
According to Hasan, the administrative requirements in the decree requiring support from 90 congregation members and 60 people outside of the congregation to build a house of worship obstructs the constitutional rights of people to freedom of worship.
"The Setara Institute proposes that permission for the establishment of place or houses of worship be taken over by the central [government] through administrative mechanisms that are made easier and are simplified", he said.
Earlier, President Widodo reprimanded regional heads over cases of intolerance when non-Islamic religious communities faced difficulties performing worship because they are a minority in the area.
Widodo emphasised that all religious communities are entitled to freedom of religion and worship. He reminded them that this is guaranteed under the 1945 Constitution.
"Careful! Those who are Christians, Catholics, Hindus, and Confucians, be careful, they have the same rights in terms of performing worship, the same rights to freedom of religion and worship", said Widodo at a 2023 National Coordinating Meeting of Regional Heads and the Regional Leadership Coordinating Forum (Forkopimda) in Bogor, West Java, on Tuesday January 17.
Widodo said he does not want rights that are guaranteed by the Constitution ignored. He warned the regional heads not to let residents' rights be revoked by agreements.
"There's a FKUB [Forum for Religious Harmony] agreement for example, there's an agreement that they're not allowed to build a place of worship. Careful, the constitution guarantees this. There are regulations by mayors, there instructions by regents. Careful, we must understand this problem", he said. (mnf/fra)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Setara Ingatkan Jokowi Masih Ada Masalah Pendirian Rumah Ibadah".]