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Group goes to court against places of worship decree

Headline News March 29, 2006 

Group goes to court against places of worship decree

Muninggar Sri Saraswati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Minority groups of Christians and Muslims are seeking judicial review of the new decree on houses of worship that they say will obstruct them from practicing their faiths.

The request was submitted Tuesday to the Supreme Court by the Defense Team for Religious and Faith Freedom (TPKB), a group of lawyers of different faiths.

“We want it annulled. The decree is against the Constitution, the Human Rights Law and the principles of freedom to exercise one’s religion and faith,” group leader Saor Siagian said after filing the appeal.

The team was set up last year to respond to several cases of church closures and attacks on the Ahmadiyah group, which has been branded a heretical Islamic sect by some Muslim groups.

Ahmadiyah joined the request for judicial review of the decree, which replaced one issued in 1969 by the religious affairs minister and the home minister.

The new decree, issued last week by Religious Affairs Minister Maftuh Basyuni and Home Minister M. Ma’ruf, rules that the establishment of a place of worship must have congregations of a minimum of 90 people, and receive consent of 60 people of other faiths living in the area.

It also is required to obtain permits from the local administration and the Communication Forum for Religious Harmony.

Saor criticized the consent requirement, saying there were some rural areas, such as remote Papuan villages, which were home to less than 50 residents.

“Does it mean they could not set up a place of worship? Isn’t it the same as prohibiting people from practicing their religion?“

The team also took issue with the communication forum, which consists of representatives from the major religions in the country, as not accommodating minority beliefs.

“Why does it only mention religions and disregard faiths?” Saor said.

The previous decree created similar concern among Christians and other minority religious groups in the world’s largest Muslim nation. They slammed the decree as restrictive and discriminative.

Hasyim Muzadi, who chairs Nahdlatul Ulama, the country’s largest Muslim organization, said Monday the new decree was even “more restrictive” than its predecessor because it accommodated too many interests.

As many as 23 churches in West Java alone were forcibly shut in the past two years on the grounds the buildings lacked permits.

Source: www.thejakartapost.com/detailheadlines.asp?fileid=20060329.A02&irec=4
AlJazeera NewsNews Global

Indonesia’s religious decree disputed

Wednesday 29 March 2006, 12:01 Makka Time, 9:01 GMT

Places of religious worship will be regulated under a new decreeA new Indonesian decree to regulate places of religious worship has drawn criticism from groups ranging from Christians to a minority Islamic sect, and has been challenged in an appeal to the country’s Supreme Court.

Lawyers calling themselves the “religious freedom defence team” have asked the Supreme Court to review the decree, which they say obstructs religious freedoms.

Abdul Manan, who handles the registration of appeals in Indonesia’s Supreme Court, said: “They want to dispute that decree.

“They think it is at odds with parts of the constitution on religion.”

Applicant Saor Siagian told the Jakarta Post newspaper that his team represents church groups and the Ahmadiyah Islamic sect.

The Indonesian Ulema Council, which groups Islamic clerics from across the country, has also expressed reservations over the decree but has stopped short of challenging it.

The country’s religious affairs and interior ministers last week issued the decree, establishing places of worship, to replace an old and somewhat vague regulation.

Christians uneasy

Church groups have already said Christians in Indonesia feel increasingly uneasy, especially after some Islamists forced several unlicensed churches to shut down in recent months.

The new decree stipulates that any attempt to set up a house of worship must take into account the religious composition of the district where it is expected to stand.

If the authorities find a request fits the composition, applicants need to show at least 90 people in the area will use the facility and that at least 60 other residents from other religions approve of having it in their neighbourhood.

Besides sealing several churches across Indonesia, some Islamists have also damaged mosques and other facilities belonging to the Ahmadiyah group, which views itself as Muslim but which many brand as heretical.

Around 85% of Indonesia’s 220 million people are Muslims, most of them moderates who tolerate other beliefs.

Source: http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/D4E8D5AE-935D-4918-8521-93DA10A65FF6.htm
Khaleej Times
World News

Indonesia’s new decree on religious houses disputed

(Reuters)

29 March 2006

JAKARTA – A new Indonesian decree to regulate places of religious worship has drawn fire from groups ranging from Christians to a minority Islamic sect, and has been challenged in an appeal to the country’s supreme court.

Lawyers calling themselves the “religious freedom defence team”’ have asked the Supreme Court to review the decree, which they say obstructs religious freedoms.

“They want to dispute that decree,” said Abdul Manan, who handles the registration of appeals in Indonesia’s Supreme Court.

“They think it is at odds with parts of the constitution on religion,” he told Reuters.

Applicant Saor Siagian told the Jakarta Post newspaper that his team represents church groups and the Ahmadiyah Islamic sect.

The country’s religious affairs and interior ministers last week issued the decree, establishing places of worship to replace an old and somewhat vague regulation.

Church groups have already said Christians in Indonesia feel increasingly uneasy, especially after Islamic radicals forced several unlicenced churches to shut down in recent months.

The new decree stipulates that any attempt to set up a house of worship must take into account the religious composition of the district where it is expected to stand.

If authorities find a request fits the composition, applicants need to show at least 90 people in the area will use the facility and that at least 60 other residents from other religions approve of having it in their neighbourhood.

The Indonesian Ulema Council, which groups Islamic clerics from across the country, has also expressed reservations over the decree but has stopped short of challenging it.

Besides sealing several churches across Indonesia, Islamic radicals have also damaged mosques and other facilities belonging to the Ahmadiyah group, which views itself as Muslim but which the hardliners brand as heretical.

Around 85 percent of Indonesia’s 220 million people are Muslims. Most of them are moderates who tolerate other beliefs.

However, religious harmony is being tested through the growing presence of the radicals, which some believe is a by-product of the 1998 downfall of President Suharto’s despotic regime. It had put a tight leash on religious extremism.

While the radicals remain small in numbers, they are loud and visible, attracting local media to give them ample space.

Evangelical Christians have also obtained a higher profile in Indonesia in recent years.

Source: www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle.asp?
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