UCA News
Contribute

Holocaust museum causes stir in Indonesia

Rights group slams top Muslim clerical body for calling for demolition of newly opened museum
Holocaust museum causes stir in Indonesia

Ina Lepel, Germany's ambassador to Indonesia, lights candles at the official opening of a Holocaust museum in Minahasa, North Sulawesi province, on Jan. 27. (Photo: German embassy)

Published: February 02, 2022 08:56 AM GMT
Updated: February 02, 2022 09:05 AM GMT

Rights groups have condemned Indonesia’s top Islamic clerical body after it called for the demolition of a Jewish community’s newly opened Holocaust museum. 

The museum in Minahasa, North Sulawesi province, violates the constitution and is provocative, according to the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI).

The Shaar HaShamayim Holocaust Museum is the first of its kind in Southeast Asia and was built by the local Jewish community. It was officially opened by German ambassador Ina Lepel on Jan. 27 to coincide with International Holocaust Day.

"The museum aims to fight racism, anti-Semitism and all intolerance," Lepel said during the opening

Her words did not hold sway with the Ulema Council.

"The Indonesian government should act decisively and immediately demolish the museum because it is provocative and its presence is not welcomed among many in this country," Muhyiddin Junaidi, deputy chairman of the MUI’s advisory board, said in a statement.

The museum is important for the young generation to warn them that cruelty to others can result in the killing of millions of people

He said the museum does not benefit Indonesian people and hurts the feeling of Palestinians.

He also accused the Minahasa Jewish community of trying to convince the Indonesian government to open diplomatic ties with Israel.

Indonesia, like many Muslim nations, refuses to acknowledge Israel as a state.

Bonar Tigor Naipospos, deputy chairman of the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, accused the MUI of failing to understand history and what the museum symbolizes. 

“The museum sends a message that a tragedy against humanity occurred and millions of people fell victim,” he told UCA News on Feb. 2.

He said the MUI call was more about religious intolerance when it should be “taking lessons from the tragedy so that it doesn’t happen again.” 

Calling something that actually happened “provocative” is strange, he said, adding: “The museum is important for the young generation to warn them that cruelty to others can result in the killing of millions of people.” 

Indonesia’s Jewish population is believed to be about 5,000 strong and most Jews arrived in the country during the Portuguese and Dutch colonial periods.

In North Sulawesi, which has a large Christian population, the local government allowed the local Jewish community to build a synagogue in 2004 and later the Holocaust museum. 

Help UCA News to be independent
Dear reader,
Lent is the season during which catechumens make their final preparations to be welcomed into the Church.
Each year during Lent, UCA News presents the stories of people who will join the Church in proclaiming that Jesus Christ is their Lord. The stories of how women and men who will be baptized came to believe in Christ are inspirations for all of us as we prepare to celebrate the Church's chief feast.
Help us with your donations to bring such stories of faith that make a difference in the Church and society.
A small contribution of US$5 will support us continue our mission…
William J. Grimm
Publisher
UCA News
Asian Bishops
Latest News
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia