Tangerang, City of Shame!

Aug 17th, 2009, in News, Opinion, by

Ross finds shameful bigotry in the fair city of Tangerang.

Tangerang in Banten already has an unpleasant reputation among those who dislike religious bigotry, but a report in the Jakarta Post did little to exculpate the citizens of that city.

The latest scene of nastiness is an obscure area called Pisangan Jaya, where a small group of Christians are being tormented by unidentified "Muslim groups". The Baptists are a long way from their nearest formal GBJK church building in Cengkareng (and even if they weren't, so what) - accordingly they meet for prayers in a residential area and each Sunday this occurs, a gang of loud-mouthed Muslims gathers close by, to shout abuse.

As the prayer-group leader, Bedali Hulu, says,

How can we pray properly if there are a bunch of people screaming threatening words outside...?

How indeed?

The JP notes that while actual residents by the site are more rattled by the protests than the prayers, Islamist intimidation has reaped its harvest of fear, an example being neighbour Mr.Asun, who says

'They come every Sunday brandishing sticks...if a brawl broke out, who'll take responsibility...we agree the church should move because we don't want any violence.'

Nor, surely, do the Baptists, and it is clearly the Muslim trouble-makers who are at fault, so why don't the police disperse them and arrest those brandishing offensive weapons?

Maybe some policemen share the nauseating irresponsibility of the jobsworth village head, a Mr Sa'adudin.

"It was the local residents who told us they didn't want any Christian activities in the area..."

He then trotted out the bureaucratic thing about residential use, but we notice that this is simply an add-on, his initial comment indicating that -

  • A - there are a lot of obnoxious ignorant bigots among his Muslim neighbours, and
  • B - his sense of civic duty is so miserably low that he won't stand up to the vermin who bring lawlessness into his patch.

I believe that another Christian denomination in Tangerang came under threat some years back, and Gus Dur went out courageously to speak up for them. He's not my idol, but he has a long record of knowledgeable Muslim leadership, yet he was shouted down by the mediaeval cretins at Sang Timur, who were enjoying terrorising Catholic schoolchildren so much that no mere presidential figure was going to stop their foul fun.

When will this government crack down on the vile fanatic element in society?


69 Comments on “Tangerang, City of Shame!”

  1. avatar Odinius says:

    This isn’t just a religious freedom issue–which it is. It is also a private property issue. Why should any Indonesians have any say in what other Indonesians do in the privacy of their own homes?

  2. avatar timdog says:

    Ross – I don’t think there’s a great deal any sensible person can say about the “issue” in question here, besides the fact that it is “bad”. Odinius seems to have said it already, so I’m afraid that I will level a criticism at your journalistic style instead…

    While you’ve always done this to a certain extent, your recent “opinion” pieces here really do seem to have degenerated completely. What you have done, both here and in your previous post on Lombok, is simply taken an article complete with pre-translated quotes from, of all places, your favourite bete noir/source-of-all-and-everything the Jakarta Post and roughly re-written it with added absurd editorialisation.
    Ever decreasing circles, Mr Ross, ever decreasing circles.

    So what we are reading here is a piece that may, somewhere a long way down the line have been collected by one or several local journalists on the spot, which was then put together as a piece of semi-original reporting by a JP staffer, and was finally knocked roughly into shape by a bule sub. Surely by this stage this piece of “news” had already been handled by enough people – but no! It had to be manhandled yet again by your good self with all the finesse and subtlety of a slobbering red-faced big-nose pawing at a tight-mouthed little bar girl on the pavement stools at Memories Cafe on Jl Jaksa of a saturday night…
    And what are the rest of us supposed to get out of that?

    Now I know that most of Mr Patung’s “Issues” posts are culled secondhand from other media, but he actually does some work, aggregating information from various sources, almost always Indonesian-language. And while I would never claim that IM’s principle attraction is as a serious “news site” he does actually offer from time to time a valuable service to those users who may not have the ability, the access, the time or the inclination to go to the original sources. And though IM obviously has, like most media outlets, an editorial line of sorts and its own set of specific news-values and selection criteria, Patung generally doesn’t really editorialise in his news pieces any more than any semi-respectable newspaper does…

    But not you. What you’re doing here is essentially equivalent to the afore-mentioned red-faced big-nose briefly putting down afore-mentioned tight-mouthed bar-girl to splutter over a page of the Jakarta Post, “This is f*cken outrageous, ay? Did ya read this Geoff? See what it says here… nah baby, ah’m not talkin’ t’ you…”

    Now the reason I’m saying this is because, though I almost never agree with you and usually find you rather silly, I do also entirely concede that you are eminently capable of producing posts that actually have the merit of originallity, that actually put forward a position and argue a point – and that therefore actually prompt debate (but what can you expect anyone to say in response to this?)…
    So why don’t you do that instead of churning out these pointless re-hashes which do little but demonstrate the empty vessel-most noise theory?
    Could do better, Mr Ross, could do much better…

  3. avatar David says:

    (I actually wrote this before timdog’s, far better, reply, but the server died when I hit submit…)

    That article you link to, which is a ‘news’ article and not opinion, it’s bizarre.

    Praying is meant to be a simple act, but not in Indonesia, which proclaims itself the world’s biggest God-fearing democracy, and refuses to be called a secular nation.

    This means undergoing the mind-numbing bureaucracy inherent in processes like getting a driver’s license or renewing a passport.

    Good start.

    And even then, the freedom to worship is not guaranteed, as medieval-style pitchfork-wielding mobs give vent to the insecurity of their “majority religion”.

    Ross have you gotten a job at the Post and not told us? The ‘medieval’ bit is a dead give away…

  4. avatar Ross says:

    Wow! Glad I don’t have a big nose and only occasionally visit Memories. Pappa Cafe is more entertaining, as indeed is Romance, Mary’s and the newer street cafe.
    But that’s by the by.
    Patung, rest assured I am not in the pay of the JP, a situation doubtless as unlikely in their eyes as mine. The quotes you use, Patung, are not from the ‘news-page’ article I started from, but must have been a follow-up, which alas I missed on this holiday weekend..
    Can’t really see why Timdog is so irritated. Offering opinion is a legitimate use of IM, and reaches a wider audience than any F-word expostulation in licensed premises. Chances are lots of people don’t scour the JP every day, especially with the Globe offering a better news-service as a rule.

    I happen to get annoyed when I read of irrational persecution of Christians, and Tangerang has more than its fair share of examples. It is fair enough to take a pot-shot at such a place.

  5. avatar Odinius says:

    I do think it’s a pretty offensive piece of news, but I think it’s the principle involved that’s offensive. Take out “Christians” and replace with “Muslims,” and take out “Tangerrang” and put in “somewhere in Europe/North America,” and it would be equally as offensive.

  6. avatar David says:

    It’s just a shocker, well at least the first few paragraphs, it’s like the people who run that paper just can’t be bothered anymore.

    Ross, the site’s always been focused on religious freedom stuff but even I tire of basically writing the same post over and over, I could just make a template with blanks for the names of the town and the church and then fill in the blanks and I’ve got my new post on the latest intimidation of a congregation…but maybe better to look try more varied topics, or things based on personal experience preferably with photos.

  7. avatar Odinius says:

    I noticed a general dumbing down of Jakarta’s English speaking world this time. I had not been back for 2 years, so this was my first experience with the JG…what a stinker! Plus they apparently misquoted a friend of mine on a professional matter to the point where he was called in by his boss to explain something he had never said. JPost does appear to have gone down the hill a bit too. I guess competition isn’t always the healthy thing…

    …plus the quality and selection of English-language books in the shops was much worse than before. Even Kinokuniya!

  8. avatar timdog says:

    Ross, you kind of missed my point – it wasn’t the issue, or even your position on it that bugged me; it was what you had done with it, namely re-written an article from the Jakarta post, with a few added yells from the sidelines.
    What you produced here was basically a letter-to-the-editor, not an opinion piece. There is a very clear difference between these two forms, as a glance at any newspaper, even – lord help us – the Jakarta Post, will make clear.
    You can clearly rant entertainingly, appear to have a passable mastery of your words, so are surely capable of creating a structured, argued, original piece that will, perhaps, prompt genuine debate. What you seem to be doing instead at the moment is this:

    There’s was this article in the Jakarta Post yesterday, and it said XXX, which I think is really sh*t, and it quoted someone who said XXXX, which is outrageous, and then it said XXXX, which is even worse, and basically it’s all an example of how sh*t XXXX is…

    By all means write something prompted by the topic in question, but try actually making it your own, or – if you don’t have anything except “this is an outrage!” – don’t say anything at all. Maybe try instead something quirky and offbeat, and far more engaging, like Chris’s refreshing offerings, or how about, as you are apparently a regular self-abuser – I beg your pardon, did I say self-abuser? I meant self-publisher of course – you give us a fictional short story? How about one that subtly yet powerfully deals with a pressing issue you read about in the Jakarta Post? That would be awesome… Hell maybe I’ll do a little one to set the example when I have a moment…

    Patung – yep, the original JP article is eye-watering. How on earth that was allowed to get through I cannot imagine. I hope at least that someone got a flea in their ear about it the next day, but it certainly doesn’t look good…

  9. avatar Ross says:

    well, Timdog, you certainly have a way with words, a talent you kindly impute to myself, along with other habits which perhaps you are better acquainted with than I.

    Of course I could – and do – write to IM on other topics, Patung, but as you note, Islamist intolerance is a recurrent theme here, and as the fasting month dawns it will surely recur even more. I see Jakarta has decreed that all fun places are to be shut for the duration, except posh hotels, where the rich play. So they are into class-based as well as religious bullying.

    As a possibly agreeable diversion for all concerned, why not compile a list of words to describe the goatie mentality; I confess I do favour ‘mediaeval,’ as well as ‘primitive’ and I use these often because they spring to mind whever I read or see the goaties’ antics.
    Timdog, and all the others, please offer alternative epithets.
    .

  10. avatar Ross says:

    Oya, and do you guys never sleep?

  11. avatar Brother Mouzone says:

    This isn’t just a religious freedom issue–which it is. It is also a private property issue. Why should any Indonesians have any say in what other Indonesians do in the privacy of their own homes?

    True – unless it impinges on others’ rights or the rules of the housing complex…

    A neighbor of mine holds a prayer meeting about once a month, and it’s frankly bloody disruptive. When you choose a house in a nice quiet residential area, you don’t expect singing, preaching, and other jabbering late into the night (which is what I get on these occasions) without so much as an apology for the extra 30 cars clogging up the narrow streets (and a congregation who make no attempt to keep it down on their way out while my kids are trying to sleep).

    If these meetings became more frequent – say weekly – I would be doing everything I could to make sure they stopped. I deliberately chose a house as far away from the nearest mosque as possible just to avoid this kind of disruption.

    I’m not saying that this is the reason behind this particular case, but I am saying that there are other possible reasons to protest the opening of a church; not just religious intolerance….

  12. avatar sputjam says:

    I thought it is clearly stated in the koran, God hates the arrogants and the agressive.
    Message in the koran has nothing to do with religion nor was it a ritual prayers book.
    freedom of faith is a personal affair.

  13. avatar Odinius says:

    Brother Mouzone:

    True – unless it impinges on others’ rights or the rules of the housing complex…

    A neighbor of mine holds a prayer meeting about once a month, and it’s frankly bloody disruptive. When you choose a house in a nice quiet residential area, you don’t expect singing, preaching, and other jabbering late into the night (which is what I get on these occasions) without so much as an apology for the extra 30 cars clogging up the narrow streets (and a congregation who make no attempt to keep it down on their way out while my kids are trying to sleep).

    Then it’s a noise issue, no? No different from if it were a raucous dinner party.

    But that’s not exactly the issue here, is it? These aren’t even the neighbors protesting.

  14. avatar timdog says:

    Ross:

    As a possibly agreeable diversion for all concerned, why not compile a list of words to describe the goatie mentality

    “Use of terms and labels in identification of the Other” is kind of a speciality of mine, with specific interest in “the terrorist threat”. I have this original concept of “an inadequate vocabulary” when it comes to just that, but that stuff’s all really boring, so making up new terms of our own is a much better idea.
    On here the other day I used the term “the rockin’ and howlin’ brigade” (I was thinking of the clicheed negative image of the “madrasah”, which is sometimes – but not always – accurate). It just sort of came out automatically without any thought, but when I read back over it I gave myself a little pat on the back. You can steal it if you like it too; Oigal’s already stolen a couple of my phrases, with my expressed permission…

    The idea of you doing a little fictional short story really appeals to me, and I’d quite like to do one myself. So, following the precedent set by the mighty Achmad-Ross insultathon (but much more gentlemanly), how about you and I do a similar thing? Say, 1000-words max, piece of fiction, addressing the notoriously loaded-yet-slippery “Cultural Change” IM mainstay? Up for it, mister?

  15. avatar Ross says:

    Interesting, as another idea was suggested by the ordeal of a friend starting a business here, and, only yesterday, by the friend himself, who knows I like to write stuff.
    ‘Cultural Change?’ Can you expand on those terms of reference, please, as it seems a little broad and a ‘competition’ needs a certain similarity of theme., would you think?
    I note we’re both insomniac tonight!

  16. avatar David says:

    Cultural Change

    I think timdog is alluding to something that used to be on the About page, where I said the site was about cultural change, in italics, my examples were Islamization and westernization…

  17. avatar Oigal says:

    Oigal’s already stolen a couple of my phrases, with my expressed permission…

    Ya… Blue Shuttlecocks..

    Seriously has anyone ever heard a better description of those strange things..well Higglypiggly heros was close but you had to be a kids cartoon addict..

    And sorry TIMDOG I ducked across to malaysia and claimed copyright, so you can’t use it anymore..there’s a bloke there who does a good line in copyrighting songs, food and other stuff from Indonesia…Hey its just business.. 🙂

  18. avatar Brother Mouzone says:

    Then it’s a noise issue, no? No different from if it were a raucous dinner party.

    If it’s a once a month occurrence then, yes, it’s just like a dinner party. But if it is a once/twice/three times weekly occurrence, then it’s like having a business start up next door (for which the business owner needs permission from their neighbors).

    As I said, I don’t know the reasons behind this particular attempted closure. The original article in the Post seems so shoddy that I wouldn’t necessarily take any of it as fact although Ross does say that the protesters mention “residential use” as one of their complaints.

    My point was, and is, that there are some reasonable and non-partisan types who don’t want a church on their street and that religious intolerance is not the only reason to protest the opening of one.

  19. avatar Ross says:

    Thanks for that, Patung. Will await the night-owl’s response, but writing a little story sounds a less Herculean endeavour than hurling verses at Achmad.

  20. avatar timdog says:

    Ah, that’s alright Oigal; some things are so good you have to share them…

    Ross – ok, let’s interpret “cultural change” (which was always a somewhat coy description of the theme of IM; I hadn’t realised you’d dropped the term Mr Patung) as, in this case, “Islam in Indonesia”, or how about “The challenge of Islam in Indonesia” (interpret that as you will).

    So, A fictional short story, anything you want, but with “The challenge of Islam in Indonesia” as the basic theme. 1000 words? Or would you prefer 1500 (which I guess is about the absolute upper limit for a sensible post here – Patung?).
    As we have radically different styles (and not just in the literary sense, obviously) I think the results might be fun for everyone else. The competition element isn’t actually all that important, but I suppose a public vote would add a certain something…
    Whadayareckon?

  21. avatar Odinius says:

    Brother Mouzone said:

    If it’s a once a month occurrence then, yes, it’s just like a dinner party. But if it is a once/twice/three times weekly occurrence, then it’s like having a business start up next door (for which the business owner needs permission from their neighbors).

    As I said, I don’t know the reasons behind this particular attempted closure. The original article in the Post seems so shoddy that I wouldn’t necessarily take any of it as fact although Ross does say that the protesters mention “residential use” as one of their complaints.

    My point was, and is, that there are some reasonable and non-partisan types who don’t want a church on their street and that religious intolerance is not the only reason to protest the opening of one.

    I wouldn’t either, to be honest. But Indonesia also has a mosque every few blocks, which blasts azzan five times a day. Surely there are also reasonable people who don’t want that next door either, but have to deal with it because it’s part of the social landscape. Given that Indonesia is a pluralist democracy, churches should be too.

    But congregations often find it exceedingly difficult to get permits to build a church, whereas mosques are built left and right. Of course Muslims have the same problems in those parts of Indonesia where they are in the minority. So, like Christians in Tangerang and elsewhere, they pray in the home. Then the same people who fight against the building of a church/mosque end up protesting the use of a home as an “illegal church/mosque.”

  22. avatar Ross says:

    Oke, Timdog, let’s give it a go. Say 1500 max, deadline for submission August 31st…subject to Patung approval.
    By all means let readers vote; as Patung likes to ensure we all go home dry-eyed, it’ll probably be a draw again!

  23. avatar timdog says:

    Sounds good to me Mr Ross, as long as Patung likes the idea. 31st of August it is. It’ll be fun, and interesting, and kind of different…

  24. avatar David says:

    It sounds great, but the format…if it’s like the 300 duel then you’re submitting comments on a post in essence, but if you’re writing 1000-1500 word short stories then that’s kind of a shame because the RSS subscribers won’t see it if it’s comments, each story might deserve its own post, so I had thought two separate posts? Makes it tricky for the voting though…Or one post with both stories, kinda long, and who’s the author, but easy for the voting.

  25. avatar timdog says:

    Patung – I would have thought sticking them together as a single post would be the most obvious choice, but how about posting them as separate posts, but next to each other, and close the comments on one?

  26. avatar David says:

    Ok, well, can’t make up my mind, might pay for me to see the stories first, see how well they go together or whether quite different, in any case you can submit it here, looks daunting but you can ignore most of it and just do the obvious bit, the text.

  27. avatar Brother Mouzone says:

    @ Odinius

    But congregations often find it exceedingly difficult to get permits to build a church, whereas mosques are built left and right.

    Sure – and there is probably a religious motivation in many of those cases. There should be no difference in the permitting process for any place of worship; regardless of denomination.

    However, I happen to think that Indonesia is actually pretty good about this kind of thing. There are a darn sight more churches in Jakarta than there are mosques or temples in London… And the chances of the UK or US making Hindu or Muslim holy days into national holidays? LOL.

    I ain’t saying Indonesia’s perfect, but it’s far from a hotbed of intolerance and hatred.

  28. avatar Oigal says:

    BM,

    And the chances of the UK or US making Hindu or Muslim holy days into national holidays?

    Laugh … It’s long bow to draw between the tokenism of a day off and religious tolerance.

    However, I happen to think that Indonesia is actually pretty good about this kind of thing. There are a darn sight more churches in Jakarta than there are mosques or temples in London…

    Besides the fact that you must be in a different Indonesia than I, How many new churches have you seen built in the past decade? Temples? Mosques?

    Did you miss the Ambon, Solo, Lombok news or perhaps to take it to exterme the beheading of girl because of her religion. Btw it ain’t just Muslim nutters against christian nutters it works fine the other way around.

    Wow!! The nutters even attacked a tree a couple of years ago for being the wrong religion

  29. avatar Brother Mouzone says:

    @ Oigal

    Besides the fact that you must be in a different Indonesia than I

    I must be…

    I’m not denying that there have been instances of tribal and religious violence and even murder. I’m saying that the majority of Indonesians are peaceful and easy going when it comes to their faith.

    I have lived in countries where genuine animosity between the faiths is the norm, rather than the exception. The Indonesia I live in is just not like that.

    How many new churches have you seen built in the past decade? Temples? Mosques?

    In the housing complexes of Jabotabek? In the new developments? Plenty, mate… Two in my complex (1000-2000 residents) alone that opened in the last decade.

    I just worry that if people who don’t know Indonesia read blog posts like the one above, they will get the false impression that Indonesia is some kind of Islamic-fascist dictatorship where Christians are a quivering, persecuted group, terrified of saying a Hail Mary in case their house gets burnt to the ground.

    Again, the Indonesia I live in is just not like that.

  30. avatar douwedabbert says:

    What are you Mr. Oigal Mr. Mouzone?
    60% of indonesian is javanese and javanese culture based on hindu, so i assume that 60% indonesia culture based on hindu. Not monotheistic religion.
    I remember in my childhood time when the time of natalan and lebaran. People are invited to the celebration and just came eat and go home. Just that. Despite their own religion. But now days there’s seems so much to think about this and that.

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