In Ra­jeg, ‘so­cial jeal­ousy’ leads to re­li­gious in­tol­er­ance

The Jakarta Post - - FRONT PAGE - Fachrul Sidiq

Neigh­bors turn against each other in res­i­den­tial com­plex Com­mu­nity head forced to with­draw dis­crim­i­na­tive or­der

Ra­jeg sub­dis­trict in Tangerang Re­gency, Ban­ten, was in the spot­light on Wed­nes­day for all the wrong rea­sons, af­ter the copy of a draft reg­u­la­tion on non-Mus­lim wor­ship in the area cir­cu­lated widely on the internet.

Bear­ing the let­ter­head of Com­mu­nity Unit (RW) 06, the reg­u­la­tion stip­u­lated how non-Mus­lims re­sid­ing at Bumi Anugerah Se­jahtera hous­ing com­plex should per­form their re­li­gious ac­tiv­i­ties.

Less than 24 hours af­ter it went vi­ral, how­ever, the planned reg­u­la­tion was with­drawn.

The draft stip­u­lated that res­i­dents hold­ing mi­nor­ity be­liefs might use their homes as places of wor­ship only if they did not in­vite other peo­ple or cler­ics from out­side the hous­ing com­plex. They were also pro­hib­ited from us­ing am­pli­fiers when per­form­ing any re­li­gious rit­u­als.

The draft also re­quired that they had to re­port any re­li­gious cer­e­monies to their six re­spec­tive neigh­bor­hood unit (RT) heads and the RW 06 head three days prior to the event.

An­other point stated that the bod­ies of de­ceased non-Mus­lim res­i­dents should be buried within 24 hours of their deaths, a prac­tice that is in line with Is­lamic tra­di­tion.

On in­struc­tions from Tangerang Re­gent Ahmed Zaki Iskandar, Tangerang Po­lice chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Sa­bilul Alif con­vened a meet­ing on Thurs­day with the of­fi­cials re­spon­si­ble for draw­ing up the planned reg­u­la­tion and rel­e­vant bod­ies in the re­gency.

The one-hour meet­ing re­sulted in the can­ce­la­tion of the reg­u­la­tion, which was drafted to “ac­com­mo­date the in­ter­ests of the ma­jor­ity of res­i­dents” and was orig­i­nally an in­ter­nal doc­u­ment for com­mu­nity or­ga­niz­ers.

“The draft in­deed ex­isted but it had never been en­forced,” Sa­bilul said, read­ing a state­ment af­ter the meet­ing. “We will pro­vide pro­tec­tion for ev­ery res­i­dent per­form­ing re­li­gious or other com­mu­nity ac­tiv­i­ties,” he added.

Each of six RT heads, the RW head and the sub­dis­trict head had signed the draft, but they re­mained tight-lipped when asked what had led to such a con­tro­ver­sial reg­u­la­tion, say­ing that it was sim­ply a mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion and the prob­lems had now been re­solved.

The com­plex houses around 350 fam­i­lies, 20 of whom are be­lieved to be non-Mus­lims. It is sit­u­ated at the western part of greater Jakarta and is 23 kilo­me­ters from the re­gency of­fice.

While au­thor­i­ties re­fused to elab­o­rate on the rea­sons behind the con­tro­ver­sial reg­u­la­tion. Sinta Tamba, 43, a mem­ber of the lo­cal In­done­sia Bethel Church (GBI) con­gre­ga­tion, be­lieved the reg­u­la­tion had some­thing to do with a re­cent re­li­gious ac­tiv­ity she held.

Last Fri­day, she held a re­li­gious cer­e­mony to bless her home, as well as a sec­ond house she owns at the com­plex. She in­vited a pas­tor to lead the cer­e­mony, which is a com­mon prac­tice for her co-re­li­gion­ists.

“The cer­e­mony should be led by a pas­tor and there is no pas­tor here in the com­plex. Be­sides, we have our own pref­er­ences when choos­ing the pas­tor. It can’t be just some ran­dom per­son,” she told The Jakarta Post, sug­gest­ing that the reg­u­la­tion was trig­gered by so­cial jeal­ousy.

Sinta, who runs a cloth­ing busi­ness, lives with her hus­band and daugh­ter in one of the nicer houses in the com­plex.

Sinta, who is of Batak de­scent, added that the point in the reg­u­la­tion that re­quired non-Mus­lim res­i­dents to bury their dead within 24 hours, may have been trig­gered by a re­cent event in­volv­ing her neigh­bor, who is also a Batak.

“This per­son did not im­me­di­ately bury a de­ceased fam­ily mem­ber be­cause they waited for other fam­ily mem­bers to pay their last re­spects, that is the Batak tra­di­tion,” she said.

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