Religious conflict and the role of our social class

M. Hilaly Basya, Jakarta Post

For the Muslims, it is weird that a church exists in a place where Christians are few. Actually, the government has enforced a regulation on a mechanism to build a house of worship. The joint ministerial decree requires any religious followers who wish to build a prayer house to ask permission from surrounding people.

The conflict related to the establishment of a house of worship by the Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) Yasmin in Bogor has gone on for two years, but remains unfinished.

Although the Supreme Court has issued a legally-binding verdict that stipulates that the GKI congregation has the right to establish a church there, the government of Bogor insists that the resistance of Muslim groups living in the area should be respected.

I think the Indonesian government, including the religious affairs minister and the home affairs minister, is facing a dilemma. On the one hand, the government has to uphold the supremacy of law.

But on the other, it seems to be worried that supporting the GKI’s right to exist would exacerbate tensions and spread the conflict to other places.

Even President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is reluctant to take over responsibility to settle the controversy. On Tuesday he asked the Bogor mayor, who is part of the problem, to solve the issue.

The establishment of houses of worship is one of the obvious triggers of conflicts between Muslims and Christians. Usually some Muslims reject construction of a church in a predominantly Muslim area. Read more

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