Following the controversy sparked by an episode of intolerance against a Catholic family, the authorities rescinded the regulation adopted in 2015 by Karet, a village near Yogyakarta (Central Java) to ban non-Muslims from taking up local residence, Asia News reports.
The case – which has caused a stir on social and mainstream media – concerns a 42-year-old painter, Slamet Jumiarto. Five days ago, he and his wife and children moved to Karet, Pleret subdistrict. The following day, the village chief and the local community told the new residents that they had to leave because only Muslims could buy or rent houses and land.
The artist posted a video in which he described the situation, and this immediately sparked a storm across the country and prompted Regency authorities to intervene.
“Our problem is finally solved, I’m relieved,” Jumiarto said. “My whole family can stay in the village of Karet, since the controversial ‘collective consent’ requirement has been dropped,” Slamet told AsiaNews today. “However, my wife and children would rather find another place to live.”
The Setara Institute, an NGO promoting human rights and religious harmony, notes that regulations such as the one issued by Karet have opened the way for communities to discriminate against minorities.
According to the Institute, there are at least 72 discriminatory bylaws in 34 provinces. They include more than 200 minor discriminatory rules, circulars and directives.
Yogyakarta, capital of the homonymous Autonomous Region, ranks 41st out of 94 on the Tolerant Cities Index drawn up by the group. Located south of Yogyakarta, Bantul Regency is not new to episodes of religious sectarianism. Many have occurred in the past three years, often caused by fundamentalists from other regions.
In January 2017, radical Muslims launched a massive pressure campaign against Yulius Suharto, head of the Pajangan subdistrict. The extremists wanted him removed from office because he is a Catholic.
Another well-known case occurred in Banguntapan. In February 2018, Islamic fundamentalist groups organised a protest that disrupted the charity work of the Catholic community in St Paul’s Pringgolayan. Members of the local congregation wanted to celebrate the elevation of their church to parish status in the village of Purbayan, Kotagede subdistrict.
Albertus Slamet Sugihardi, 63, attended the same church. He died last December. To avoid tensions with the Islamic community, the family had to hold a private funeral inside the church and remove the upper part of the wooden cross placed on the tomb because local extremists claimed that the cemetery was “for the exclusive use of Muslims”.
On other occasions, radicals have interrupted non-Islamic prayers, songs and religious services, as well as attacked traditional Javanese beliefs and customs.
In September 2018, their protests prompted the authorities in Pantai Biru (Srandakan subdistrict) to cancel the Sedekah Laut ceremony, during which fishermen pay homage to the generosity of the sea.