Church condemns disruption of party

Local police 'surrendered' to radical group that stopped children's function

Konradus Epa, Jakarta, Indonesia

May 19, 2011

A Church official and activists have condemned a radical group’s disruption of a post-Easter celebration attended by more than 6,000 Protestants in a hotel in Cirebon, West Java.

The May 16 program, attended mostly by schoolchildren, was disrupted by 20 people from the Movement against Conversion and Cult (Gapas) claiming that the program’s organizers had no permission to organize the program.

But when an organizer said he had informed local police about the program, the radical group’s head then called local police and asked them to break it up.

“We condemn the radical act which is against our constitution,” Father Antonius Benny Susetyo, executive secretary of the bishops’ Commission for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, said yesterday.

The 1945 Constitution guarantees religious freedom and also freedom of religious activities, he said. “It is the state’s problem. The leaders, however, fail to uphold the constitution."

Activists from the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace also condemned the radical group’s act. “Gapas committed such intolerance acts many times, including those against Ahmadiyah sect members in Kuningan, Cirebon, and other religious groups,” said Hendardi, the institute’s executive director.

He continued that local police’s surrender to the group lessened the dignity of law enforcement officers.

He also warned that if such situations continued, intolerance would be widespread and the state would lose its prestige.

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