Protesters outside the meeting
The 1945 constitution and legal supremacy by central government are under serious threat from local regulations which limit the freedom of worship of minority groups, an interfaith coalition has warned. “We, the Interfaith National Group, wanting to preserve Indonesia as a home for everyone, call on the president – as head of the government and state – not to stay silent in the face of threats to the 1945 constitution and legal supremacy,” they said in a statement yesterday. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono must uphold the national motto -- unity in diversity – and not let it be destroyed by abuse of authority from officials at all levels, the statement added. The coalition, which included the Communion of Churches in Indonesia
and the Wahid Institute
, highlighted discrimination faced by members of the Christian Church in Indonesia (GKI) in Taman Yasmin in Bogor and the Batak Society Christian Church (HKBP) of Philadelphia in Bekasi as well as Ahmadiyah and Shia Muslims. The GKI Yasmin congregation has been banned from using their church because of alleged irregularities regarding a 2006 building application. A Supreme Court ruling which has been backed by the Ombudsman saying the congregation has the right to worship in the church, has been ignored by the local mayor. Protestants from the HKBP of Philadelphia are embroiled in a similar case. “The president must immediately take action and guarantee the freedoms of religion, faith and worship in all parts of Indonesia,” the coalition said. “Marginalization and criminalization based on religions and faiths must be ended as soon as possible,” they asserted.