Bogor has topped a list of the most religiously intolerant cities in Indonesia, with the top 10 dominated by jurisdictions in West Java.
The study, by leading religious freedom monitor the Setara Institute, surveyed 94 cities nationwide and gave them scores from 1 to 7, with 7 being the least tolerant.
Bogor, a satellite city south of Jakarta, bagged a score of 5.21, with researchers citing city authorities’ long-running refusal to allow a Christian congregation into its church there as a clear example of the government condoning and even facilitating intolerance.
The GKI Yasmin congregation has since 2008 been locked out of its church in Bogor on the grounds that its leaders falsified data needed for the building permit. The churchgoers, activists and legal scholars deny this, and the Supreme Court has twice ruled in favor of the congregation, but Bogor authorities continue to bar the worshipers from their church, claiming the local residents, mostly Muslim, are uncomfortable with a church in their midst.
Earlier this year, Mayor Bima Arya Sugiarto also barred commemorations of the Shiite holy day of Ashura in the city, citing security concerns.
“We also heard reports that a meeting of anti-Shiite groups there was facilitated by the city administration and hosted at City Hall,” Bonar Tigor Naipospos, the deputy chairman of the Setara Institute, said at a discussion in Jakarta on Monday to announce the findings of the survey.
“How on earth can the government facilitate intolerant groups?” he added.
He said the variables that the institute considered when grading each city included bylaws and local regulations as well as actions by the local authorities that were deemed discriminative, and the demographic make-up of each region.
“The reason Bogor is the most intolerant city is because there continue to be so many instances of intolerance there, with the government failing to respond accordingly. The same goes with the other nine cities [in the top 10],” Bonar said.
Six of the top 10 cities are in West Java, a province whose governor, Ahmad Heryawan, has openly advocated discrimination against Shiite and Ahmadiyah minorities. Aceh, the only province in Indonesia that implements a partial form of Islamic shariah, had only one representative in the top 10:
Bogor, West Java (5.21)
Bekasi, West Java (4.68)
Banda Aceh, Aceh (4.58)
Tangerang, Banten (4.26)
Depok, West Java (4.26)
Bandung, West Java (4.16)
Serang, Banten (4.05)
Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara (4.05)
Sukabumi, West Java (4.05)
Tasikmalaya, West Java (4.00)
Interestingly enough, all the cities in the top 10 most intolerant are majority Muslim. At the other end of the scale, the top 10 most tolerant cities are those with a non-Muslim majority, with the exception of Salatiga in Central Java and Palangkaraya in Central Kalimantan:
Pematang Siantar, North Sumatra (1.47)
Salatiga, Central Java (1.47)
Singkawang, West Kalimantan (1.47)
Manado, North Sulawesi (1.47)
Tual, Maluku (1.47)
Sibolga, North Sumatra (1.59)
Ambon, Maluku (1.59)
Sorong, Papua (1.59)
Pontianak, West Kalimantan (1.59)
Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan (1.59)
“The purpose of publishing this index is to promote the cities that are success stories, to spur other cities to do more to nurture tolerance in their areas,” Ismail Hasani, the Setara Institute research director, said at Monday’s discussion.
By looking at each city’s approach to religious freedom, Ismail said there was a clear conclusion to draw: “The less the government interferes in matters of religious freedom or faith, the more tolerant the city.”
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