Friday, October 29, 2010

The right to build mosques and churches

The right to build mosques and churches

Al Makin, Yogyakarta | Fri, 10/15/2010 9:31 AM | Opinion, The Jakarta Post
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Mosques and churches, in which believers pray to God for a happy life in this world and salvation in the world to come, can also cause tension and conflict. In this archipelagic country — with a boast-worthy diversity of ethnicities, faiths, ideologies, political parties and social organizations — mosques and churches of minority groups are under attack.

Ahmadiyah’s mosques and the churches of the Batak Protestant Church (HKBP) in Bekasi are cases in point. Ironically, those who attacked those places of worship, such as the FPI (Islam Defenders Front), also pompously voiced their disagreement in public statements. They question the rights of minorities to build places of worship that they perceive as a threat to their mosques.

Worse still, the government, e.g., the religious affairs minister, makes that disagreement its main concern and shields the mosques of the majority — which are in fact “safe and sound” as nobody dares to disturb them.

The mosques and churches belonging to minority groups are then further discredited, while some of the perpetrators are roaming free and looking for vulnerable people who can be turned into radicals. Through the public media, schools and mosques, the younger generation can become the prey of radicals.

True, some, such as Abu Bakar Ba’asyir and those who stabbed the HKBP leaders, were jailed for their roles in spreading hate, causing disorder and breaking the law. However, their ideologies are far from diminishing in this country.

Nevertheless, you may wonder why the “majority” is so scared of the “minority”. Common sense and logic are turned upside down. Who is intimidating whom? Who are the perpetrators and who are the victims? The minority or the majority? Which one is increasing? Mosques or churches? Ahmadiyah’s mosques or the Muslim majority’s mosques?



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