New mayor of Indonesian city vows to implement Sharia

November 29, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

This map of Indonesia shows the percentage of Christians in the country’s various provinces

This map of Indonesia shows the percentage of Christians in the country’s various provinces

Indonesia, November 27, 2012: The new mayor of a city in West Java, Indonesia, has vowed to implement sharia to honour a pledge he made to Muslim leaders who backed his election campaign.

Budi Setiawan announced on 19 November that Tasikmalaya’s bylaws would be based on Islamic law in matters of customs and behaviour. The mayor said that he had received “strong backing from Muslim leaders” and wanted to keep the “personal commitment” he had made to them.

His plans for the south-eastern city have been met with criticism and popular dissent. Previous attempts by the Tasikmalaya authorities to introduce sharia law have also been opposed; it has been under consideration since 2009, with proponents pointing to the fact that the city’s population is overwhelmingly Muslim.

Earlier this year, a proposal to impose the veil for all women, including foreigners and non-Muslims, and form a “moral police” sparked controversy. Then Mayor Syarif Hidayat denied that there would be a strict application of sharia; he said that non-Muslims would not be forced to practise specific Islamic morals but that there were some “customs” that all would be bound to respect.

Eva Kusuma Sundari, a national politician, condemned his plan, saying that laws inspired by sharia were “unconstitutional and discriminatory”.

Sharia law is nevertheless spreading in Indonesia. Aceh is the only one of the 32 provinces where it is officially permitted, but many others use it as the inspiration for their ordinances; since 2003 at least half have enacted their own variations of sharia, some of which apply to Christians as well as Muslims. The national government has refused to intervene, claiming that the laws deal only with “public order”.

The increased Islamisation of some areas is making the Christian minority increasingly vulnerable as Muslims become more intolerant and extremist.
In other parts of West Java, Christians are under growing pressure from both the authorities and Islamist groups. In Bogor, the mayor has illegally sealed off GKI Yasmin Church and refused to comply with a Supreme Court ruling that it be reopened. Filadelfia Batak Christian Protestant Church’s building in Bekasi has also been closed. Both churches have come under attack by extremist groups.

– barnabas team

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