In Rajeg, ‘social jealousy’ leads to religious intolerance
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Less than 24 hours after it went viral, however, the planned regulation was withdrawn.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.