Bekasi Bigots

Feb 21st, 2010, in Opinion, by

Sectarian mapping of cities to prevent conflict, as another church, in Bekasi, is closed.


Having lived in Bekasi, West Java some years ago, the Jakarta Post article about ‘religious mapping‘ holds interest. The very idea that you need to map an area to provide for peaceful sectarian co-existence, never mind integration, sums up what is wrong with Indonesia. It can be better summarised in two words: Muslim clerics, as in this story of protests against the construction of a Protestant church in Bekasi recently:

Rusli, 38, a moderate Muslim, was in a quandary when local clerics recently asked him and other residents to sign a petition against the building of the Batak Christian Protestant Church (Filadelfia Huria Kristen Batak Protestan (HKBP)) church in their neighborhood in Jejalen Jaya.

The clerics said that if we didn’t sign, they wouldn’t recite prayers at our funerals. I insisted on not signing it, but most of my neighbors were cowed by the threat.

With local clerics still playing a pivotal leadership role in rural parts of Bekasi, people in the Muslim-majority region are easily dragged into conflicts sparked by religious tensions. The spat between the HKBP and the Jejalen Jaya residents only escalated once Muslim clerics in the subdistrict began inciting opposition to the construction of the church.

All Muslim clerics in this subdistrict have agreed the construction of the church must desist immediately

says protest leader Nesan.

So what’s their problem? Murhali, Bekasi FPI leader said on TVone on Sunday that there were 6 churches in the area.

At night, their singing disturbs the locals’ sleep

They can hardly be serious in saying that church-bells and hymn-singing ‘disturb’ Muslim residents, since their own mosques emit cacaphonous ululations again and again every day, not least when normal folk are abed and asleep.

Bekasi ’45 Islamic University sociologist Andi Sopandi points out such faith-fomented conflicts are to be expected. Such disputes, he says, occur frequently in developing rural or suburban areas across the country, where the influx of newcomers with a more diverse background has grated on traditionally more homogeneous communities.

Locals and newcomers get along well only if they share similar basic values, and for most Indonesians, that would be religion

says Andi, who advised former vice president Jusuf Kalla during the latter’s mediation to end the deadly inter-religious clashes in Poso, Central Sulawesi. Given the situation, he goes on, the establishment of an interfaith communication forum alone is never enough.

True enough, Andi, but what is to be done?

Andi believes it is paramount for all regional administrations in the country, including in Bekasi, to produce a map, updated each year, that shows the spread of religious clusters in the area.

The map shouldn’t just list the populations of each religion, but should also point out their homes and nearest houses of worship. Using such a map, the local administration can work with its Interfaith Communication Forum to allow for houses of worship to be established where the population of any particular religious group is high.

It might, one would think, be easier just to let people build a church, or temple, or mosque, subject to parking needs etc., and allow for freedom of religion to proceed, but not here. The ignorant savages who hold court in the mosques direct their flock to hound anybody who doesn’t share their beliefs.

Why, we have to ask again? And it does seem to come back to the paranoid fear among these clerics that their flock will jump ship. Repeatedly, we hear the horrified fanatics speaking of ‘conversion’. Sometimes they use the term ‘Christianisation‘ of areas, as if there’s some Rome-directed plot to flood Bekasi with Catholics or perhaps American evangelists are master-minding wholesale Protestant indoctrination of the Bekasi masses. No wonder Islamic spokesmen often prescribe the death penalty for anyone who converts out.

Are rank-and-file Muslims truly so weak in their faith that only such barbaric threats keep them bending the knee to bearded ignoramuses? I doubt it. Most people need a pretty heavy reason to change the religion they were born into.

The menace of proselytisation was also the excuse in last week’s report from Taman Galaxy, which is a nice little housing estate there where I occasionally did some work about seven years back. Everybody seemed civil enough, no signs of irrationality, at least no more than usual. But this year, we have 16 Islamist outfits up in arms because Galilea Church has a little Sunday fair.

One Murhali said that there were allegations that the church was carrying out a mission to convert residents.

We received reports that church officials often held a charity bazaar for locals but they were asked to say that Jesus is their God. I think it’s a violation.

Sounds unlikely, but what the heck, even if they were asked, they can ‘just say no’, nobody forced them to go there, and given Islam’s record of forcible conversion, a charity bazaar is pea-nuts.

I’m sure Andi Sopandi is a well-meaning man, but maps will only show that non-Muslims are in a minority just about everywhere in Bekasi and in Jakarta. The kind of bigoted clerics we’re talking about here don’t care at all if it’s 2% or 20% – backed up by the kind of Islamist zealots who run the political show in Bekasi, they want to stamp out any alternative source of spiritual guidance that might seem preferable to their own unpleasant brand.

196 Comments on “Bekasi Bigots”

  1. Janma says:

    I must admit, though, I heard Oigal saying ‘worked with’ Aboriginals, I thought he meant let them do his crude manual labor or tend to his sheep.

    nah…. probably meant he let them sleep in his shed, drink all his grog and eat his dog….

  2. Oigal says:

    probably meant he let them sleep in his shed, drink all his grog and eat his dog….

    Surprising from you Janma, a comment normally expected from the more socially inept.

    I confess, “worked with” was slightly inaccurate, worked for and instructed by perhaps would be better. Of course, nothing so pretentious as being inducted into the culture or other such nonsense but in the hard science of Engineering in some very remote areas.

    Cuk, Nice to see you back as ignorant of the facts as ever. Aborginal Governors, try Sir Douglas Nicholls for a start. Probably the most able Governor South Australia has had in recent times.

    I am glad you have mentioned Papua and human rights though, I am always confused how one province that provides over 4% of Indonesia’s GNP can have children dying of starvation, people sentence to 15 years Gaol for raising a flag but I can flood thousands of people’s homes with mud force them into the street and be considered a Presidential hopeful?

    I was also wondering how do we explain the over 700 deaths in Custody that occured last year in Indonesia. Pretty sure it’s not Australia that is hammering Indonesia on human rights, in fact to my personal shame, the Australian Government is only too willing to look the other way. Amnesty International on the other hand in April 2009 had this to say..

    The situations in Papua and Maluku continued to deteriorate, including continued attacks on freedom of expression. The number of prisoners of conscience rose sharply to 117. Attacks against minority religious groups and their leaders increased across the archipelago. Torture, excessive use of force and unlawful killings by police and security forces continued. No progress was made in bringing the perpetrators of past gross human rights violations in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam (NAD), Papua and Timor-Leste to justice

    Then again they may be misinformed not having access to the deep knowledge you so aptly display.

  3. Oigal,

    How ’bout deaths in custody in Australia ?

    I wanna see what Amnesty has to say about human rights in Australian aboriginal communities. According to Oigal, there were no removals from families, no stealing children from their parents, it’s all nutri grain (a breakfast cereal), and tip-top bread with meadow-lea margarine (synthetic butter substitute). Go for gold, Oigal.

  4. Oigal says:

    Assmad, you Idiot. You really make it so easy.

    What does Amnesty International say Australia..It appears not much

    there were no removals from families, no stealing children from their parents

    No removals, no stealing children. Two rather seperate issues which is why when pressed Idiots like yourself have no end of trouble naming any of the “stolen” generation. I wonder what the take of an Idiot is on the British Children “stolen” and sent to work in Australia under abysmal conditions?

    Truely a dill you are!

  5. Ok, so Oigal, we got you on the record, right:

    No removals, no stealing children.

    But as I (Dikkiman, not Achmad), am an idiot, can you explain = precisely why you say:

    Two rather seperate issues

    Just for the readers…

  6. Oigal says:

    Assmad spare usyour exterme immaturity for once and don’t misquote me out of context moron!

    If you wanted to talk about the issue then “stealing” and “removal” of children children are two very different issues. The issues of terminology are far reaching far beyond anything that should be discussed with insecure, poorly informed, attention seeking troll like youself.

  7. deta says:

    But as I (Dikkiman, not Achmad), am an idiot, can you explain = precisely why you say:

    Hi, Mas Dikki,
    It’s kinda perplexing to see that you’re a different person from Achmad Sudarsono, yet sound too much like him. As a younger version of him, you might consider the picture of this more stylish fella for your gravatar.

  8. You’re on the record, though.

    If you wanted to talk about the issue then “stealing” and “removal” of children children are two very different issues.

    Could you explain what you mean by the difference ? I don’t want to quote you out of context again. Just want to know what you mean by the ‘removal’ vs ‘stealing’ of children. I

  9. Oigal says:


    No mistaking the sound of a hollow drum. 🙂

    Assmad, you still don’t get it, I could not care less what a spoilt, sponsored brat like yourself wants or needs.

  10. If not for me, why then not for the readers ? Don’t you think removal and theft is a different issue ? Isn’t the difference important ? And since the readership of this site is international, isn’t it important to set the record on Australian history straight ?

  11. Cukurungan says:

    I am glad you have mentioned Papua and human rights though, I am always confused how one province that provides over 4% of Indonesia’s GNP can have children dying of starvation, people sentence to 15 years Gaol for raising a flag but I can flood thousands of people’s homes with mud force them into the street and be considered a Presidential hopeful?

    Why confused if we Indonesian follow how the white people treating their black little brother in the Australia, trust me that there will be no more starvation in Papua because most Papuans people will be close to extinction like fate of the aboriginal people today.

  12. Oigal says:

    Papuans people will be close to extinction like fate of the aboriginal people today.

    Oh Chuck never let the facts get in the way of a good story…current population of Aborginals exceeds the estimated number at time of first white settlement and is growing ever year.

  13. Ross says:

    Great stuff, lads. It’s a long, long way from old Bekasi…

  14. Ross,

    Good point. We were supposed to behave ourselves on the threads.

  15. Oigal says:

    Sorry Ross..fair point..

  16. Ross says:

    No prob! It’s been diverting, so much so that I’ve neglected to prepare further comment. The quality of life for women, I think, 1950s V today. I’ll be back.

  17. madrotter says:

    well i don’t really mind the catfighting here and i’m sure australia has a lot to be ashamed of concerning their history with the aboriginals, but i got some activist friends in bandung. they showed me some stuff about what tni is doing in papua, i don’t mean the deforestation that is taking place at a record breaking pace. i’m talking about the way they kill folks overthere. one favorite way is killing a man by shoving a red hot iron bar up his anus, not a nice way to die. they force his family, his wife, kids, parents, brothers, sisters etc. to watch. they then cut him up and make sateh and force the family to eat it…

    i don’t think this kid of stuff is happening in australia…

    around 100.000 people have been murdered overthere now….

    and that’s just papua, we could fill pages here about what they’ve done in kalimantan, sumatera and lots of other places in indonesia…

    i’ve seen booklets about what they did in east-timor, rows of pregnant women hanging upside down with their belly’s cut open their babies hanging out… guys being strangled just so they can save a bullet…

    there’s somebody doing a life sentence for dancing a tribal dance in front of our (sometimes very, very) sensitive president….


  18. madrotter says:

    ehrrr, oops, let myself go there for a minute, sorry, sorry, sorry…

    saw rabbit proof fence last week (again) and hey i even watched samson and delilah few weeks back and liked it!

    actually know a guy, brother of a friend of my wife. he has this box at home full with dried ears that he cut off the folks he murdered when he was stationed in aceh. weird. he’s a very nice, friendly, shy guy…

  19. Oigal says:

    Madrotter, For Aborginal History its complicated and still is. There was lot of pretty bad stuff done both with Malice and also with the best of intentions (at that time). A classic case of best intentions was the removal of half caste children deemed at risk and placed into white foster organisations. The “powers that be” believed they were doing the kid a favour by training the savage out. Obviously fairly unacceptable concept these days but to expect the society of that time to act different is dreamtime.

    Another was the honourable intention was to make it illegal to pay aborginal stockmen less than the white stockmen. A very noble intention, but it then became more economical to employ mechanised means to drove stock (helicopters etc). Thousands of aborginal stockmen in remote areas had no employment with no other options, leading to a cycle of welfare dependancy.

    It still goes on today, should an Aborginal Community have complete freehold title to Aborginal Land? Seems logical on the surface, but what happens if they decided to sell it to Willie May’s developments for a nice chunk of cash?

    Rabbit Proof fence is a nice little tale (factually inaccurate) and the unintended consequence of this overly negative telling, is all to often Aborginal Children are left in at risk situations far longer than they should be because people are afraid to act and be declared……

    Unfortunately our idiot trolls for glib answers to very complicated issue and I for one have no idea of what the solution would be. Of course, the troll has history of trading on other peoples plight for a few laughs, its inner racist heart and ignornance is on show with such comments as “all aboriginals are poor” (they aren’t) or they should be call Koori (they shouldn’t unless from a particular region).

    Relucant as I am to quote Wikki, the following is not a bad summary and the follow up references on the page provide a good overview.

    As for myself, I tend to side the Prof Geoffrey Blainey who said the telling of Australian history had moved from an unduly positive rendition (the “Three Cheers View”) to an unduly negative view (The “‘black armband'”). Australia in recent years has lost any balance in the discussion.

    As for ETimor, nothing they show you is close to how bad it was. Ask them about the rape camps and cages…grotesque and still nothing is done. If you have any TNI friends of any rank who served there ask them about Aturo Island and watch their expression.

    As a matter of interest, the local “freedom fighters” don’t have any moral high ground, it was only a matter of logistics that prevented them from reaching the lofty heights of brutality so denied by all these days.

  20. ET says:

    @ madrotter

    Are the atrocities you described somewhere on record with Amnesty International, ICG or other NGO’s?

  21. Ross says:

    Oh, well, skip the original topic and join in. I don’t understand this ludicrous guilt trip Australia went on a while ago and hasn’t come back off yet.

    Okay, we don’t go around occupying countries anymore, except in the case of Papua, but isn’t Australia a fine country, of which most people would be happy to be citizens.
    Note the so-called ‘poor’ asylum-seekers, so-called, paying fortunes to leave Aghanistan (instead of joining the brave Aussie soldiers who are fighting to keep it a semi-civilised place instead of a Taliban nightmare, these a-s types just want to do a runner, but only to a country with a juicy welfare system!)

    If Captain Cook and Co. hadn’t landed, it would still be a desolate dump with Stone Age men romping about spearing each other.

  22. madrotter says:

    well the one about shoving red hot iron bars in anusses, i’ve read that in booklets that were circulating in bandung. knowing what i know about what they’ve been doing in timtim i don’t find it hard to believe. mind you, i’ve read this stuff about 9 or 10 years ago… about 10 years ago a friend of my friends walked along with a may 1 march, he was a punky type. he was picked up for questioning in front of gedung sateh in bandung. they interrogated him but he wouldn’t name any names of other political activists so they shoved a broomstick up his behind. this guy has lost the ability to speak and he’s in a wheelchair for the rest of his life, his mind’s gone… now, if they can do this type of stuff in a big city like bandung, just imagine what these types of folks do when they’re far away in the jungle….

    it’s been about 2 years now but a very good friend of mine from kenya was murdered by cops in bandung, i was there when he finally died after a few horrible days and i helped carry him away from the hospital where they treated his parents like they were dirt. i’m still angry so every now and then i kind of speak my mind… i think i told that story here once…

    tell you another one. i’m helping out sometimes in a place where there are many handicapped kids, free of charge ofcourse and i love doing it. there’s one very sweet girl there in a wheelchair. she’s beautiful. from a family, only the father’s left, dirt poor. she was working as a maid for a very rich family. so she got a boyfriend. you know how it is, just friends, cinta monyet and the woman she was working for didn’t like it. forbade it. you know how things go, she went to see a movie with him, nothing happened, just watching a movie all very innocent. the woman found out, shot her in the legs and dumped her on a garbageplace. this girl crawled for god knows how far, legs got infected badly. while she was in the hospital the rich woman got worried, got together with her friends and they decided to feed this girl jamu that would make her forget everything. i don’t know how they succeeded into feeding her this jamu but they were pretty succesful cause this girl, on top of being in a wheelchair for the rest of her life is also braindamaged because of this. the woman got arrested, went to trial but was ofcourse set free because of “lack of evidence”….

    for those of you that read this and think, what kind of country is indonesia, what kind of people do all this, indonesia is a beautiful country, the people are the sweetest people in the world i’m sure this kinda stuff is happening all over the globe, there’s bad apples everywhere…

  23. Oigal,


    A classic case of best intentions was the removal of half caste children deemed at risk and placed into white foster organisations. The “powers that be” believed they were doing the kid a favour by training the savage out.

    Just fantastic. ‘Removal of half caste children deemed at risk,’ and ‘powers that be,’

    Deemed by who ?

    What do you mean by removal ? What sort of scenes accompanied the ‘removal’ of ‘half caste’ children,” ??

    And, ‘powers that be,’ ?? Oh you mean the government.

    ‘Fairly unacceptable.’

    Ross, also fantastic:

    If Captain Cook and Co. hadn’t landed, it would still be a desolate dump with Stone Age men romping about spearing each other.

  24. madrotter says:

    that’s not really fair dikkiman, sorry, but your twisting oigal’s words here, those folks thought they were doing the right “christian” thing with those removals, i think its horrible ofcourse, any sensible person would think it horrible, i don’t see anywhere where oigal is defending these practises

  25. Ross says:

    Madrotter, you seem determined to imbue Achmad Mark 2 with less sanguine bellicosity than he has always displayed. (Howzat, Achmad, big words, which I know you abhor!)
    But to be fair, he is being very much more courteous in his disagreements with me than he used to be.
    Is this a born-again Dikman?

  26. madrotter says:

    naw i like dikkiman always enjoy his posts, ukelele or bongo’s, no matter to me just in this instance i felt a need to speak up. i might even take up poledancing myself, i’ve left seksiness behind after 8 years of tropical sprue, that shit messes things up in the muscle department but hey, the old lady is very pregnant and before i met her i had years and years of true naughtiness…

  27. Ross says:

    Good for you!

  28. timdog says:

    Like madrotter (fine, fine posts, full of righteous anger there mister), I do wish Dikkiman would lay off a bit. I know that you and Oigal have a certain special kind of relationship, Dikkiman, and I think that – probably – all the artifice of the internet cast aside, your views and mine on most things would tally very closely. But yapping away at Oigal on this particular thread like a Jack Russell terrier with a bad case of Balinese rabies is making you, not him, look silly.
    Because, from the perspective of my piss-soaked liberal bed, he was the one talking by far the most sense until the point where you leapt in. Sorry mas, you know I love you dearly, but it needed saying.

    Ross, this is a wild, wild tangent, but anyway:

    Note the so-called ‘poor’ asylum-seekers, so-called, paying fortunes to leave Aghanistan… but only to a country with a juicy welfare system

    There is a whiff of a valid point in this, but also a gross error.
    It is true that the people who go through horrific experiences – try a little empathy from time to time; it’s a great asset to a writer – to get themselves to a “better life” in some “western” country do indeed usually come from a good few steps above the real rock bottom of society – partly because coming from a slightly higher station gives them slightly higher aspirations than an illiterate peasant; partly because they have at least to have the wherewithal to pawn everything they own for a soul-selling loan of a good few thousand dollars, and if all you own is nothing, then you can’t do that…
    But they certainly weren’t living a life of luxury in a gated compound in the leafy suburbs of Kabul. Those people have no reason to leave, and every reason to stay.
    But the “juicy welfare system” bit is way off. These people do look to certain particular countries when dreaming of a new life, for various reasons – the countries that loom large in their consciousness; the countries with which they may have some vague cultural or historic link, the countries the language of which they may speak a little.
    They do not come because they dream of living in a shitty council flat on just enough unemployment benefits not to starve and to abdicate all aspirations for a better life for the rest of their days.
    The connection between “illegal immigrants” and asylum seekers , and “benefits” comes about because we push them into it; we say they can’t work, and then take years over processing their claims, all the while continuing to say they can’t work and handing them out a few crumbs in the meantime.

    I worked for more years than I would have liked in a trade in which from time to time the people who did the very dirtiest of the jobs were of dubious legality, on at least two occasions came from Afghanistan itself, who came and went from the back door, and were usually paid criminally – quite literally – low rates.
    I wonder if you’ve ever actually met one of these people… but that’s by the by.
    Believe me, the vast majority of them want desperately to work, even if it’s only for £1.50 an hour. That’s what they’re dreaming of when the last of the oxygen runs out in the back of the sealed truck waiting in a Calais container yard, or when the rickety fishing boat crossing the Timor Sea springs a leak; that’s what they’re dreaming of, not the glories of a £40 benefit cheque…

  29. Madrotter,

    I object to Oigal prettifying the horrific with oh-so reasonable terms.

    I hardly commented, I didn’t twist, if you look closely. For some context, the great Drs. Achmad Sudarsono had a long debate about this issue, including ‘removals’ of children.

    Oigal in particular vehemently denied any ‘theft’ of children. Now he concedes those ‘deemed at risk,’ weren’t stolen, rather removed.

    What if the Majelis Ulama Indonesia ‘deemed’ a Westerner’s kids at risk from aetheism and put them in a pesantren for their own good. (Left your kids out of it, Oigal).

    Second issue is Oigal’s use of terms like ‘fairly unacceptable,’ and ‘deemed’ when he’s really in Orwell’s terms using language to try to make the indefensible defensible and gentrifying a horrific violation of human rights.

    It also sums up alot of Drs. Achmad’s criticisms of Oigal, that behind an attempt to appear, respsectable, wise and world weary, lies a knee-jerk reactionary.

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