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. deta says:


    But I certainly don’t feel threatened by successful women, having been a big fan and active supporter of Maggie Thatcher in the UK.

    Of course you don’t. As long as she is not your wife or your colleague. 😀
    I didn’t refer to the type of feminists you described above, I referred to single women who try to pursue their dreams and help other less fortunate women to stand on their own and cut the dependency toward men, yet receiving this PhD (P-h-Dykes) sort of prejudice.

    Venna, I got the article. This one, isn’t it? Yeah, he is irresistible. 😀

    Anyway, thank you for your enlightenment, Venna and Ross.

  2. venna says:

    Venna, I got the article. This one, isn’t it? Yeah, he is irresistible. 😀

    Yeah, and I still cannot download it. But it’s okay. Just tell me, you won’t let a man like him got your vote easily. You have to deep-fry him first *using PhD hat*

  3. deta says:

    @ Venna

    Because I am not quite a feminist (since when a feminist loves to do ironing while sobbing from watching a romantic movie on DVD?) I’ll make sure my feminist friends do that for us 😉

  4. Ross says:

    Deta! I have had female bosses, never a prob. And wives…well, they can be bossy, but as long as we take turns!

  5. Oigal says:

    Well, I think most would accept the very best option for President of Indonesia is a very high profile woman and I ain’t talking Megashopper. Fair to say USA would have been better off if the first Black President had not been an unqaulified dodgy Chicargo nobody but the extermely clever Condoleezza Rice. I would be happy to do her ironing.

  6. ZZZBRILJANT says:

    What a Dream, Indonesia have a real political leader, one who can do the
    country fair, developing country, make this large populous country Fairness.

    This effectively stopped by the Arabs in the Middle East and other wealthy who like the system, to keep them less wealthy in a lying skills that are perceived tru and truer the poorer they are.

  7. ET says:

    Oigal said

    Fair to say USA would have been better off if the first Black President had not been an unqaulified dodgy Chicargo nobody but the extermely clever Condoleezza Rice.

    Agreed. It’s a pity she’s been compromised with that Bush administration. A black woman as President, it would have been like killing a bird with one stone. But two black Presidents in a row, I don’t see that happen.

  8. ET says:

    like killing a bird with one stone

    two birds with one stone, of course.

  9. ET says:


    This comment editor doesn’t always work.

  10. David says:

    It’s a new version, might be caching problem, Ctrl + F5 to hard refresh might fix it.

  11. Ross says:

    Oigal, you’re scaring me. I’d have quite liked Condy as President too.
    But we have an Asian-origin Governor in Louisiana, a bloke, admittedly, who might make a good candidate.
    And there is a lady congressman about, who says all the right thngs.
    No big deal if the good guys are gals, or black, or brown, but if it gets a few more votes, why not?

  12. Ed says:

    Odinus made comments about the new mosque in Camberley, next to the Sandhurst military academy. I have a feeling you have not got all the facts about this building projects. You have seen only one facet of the discussion.
    The truth is that there is a mosque already operating in a listed school building on site. What has got a lot of locals to oppose the new grand mosque is that first of all it would destroy an historical building (which could be modernised and would get a planning permission, no doubt).
    Secondly you do not be a genius to see that what the newspaper is alluding as a security risk, can actually be a serious security risk and makes a very valid point.
    I think you presented a half truth as a truth to support your view on parochialism.
    There are reasons for maintaining the nature of some historical buildings for a good reason and those should not be overruled just because of absolute bending over to make the muslim community welcome in one or another part of the UK. Lets treat everyone equally and I think the UK has been very generous towards the newcomers.

  13. Ross says:

    And I see we can now expand Bekasi Bigots to Bogor bigots, with more goat-bearded thugs harassing Christians in Bogor as well as Bekasi over Easter.
    Have the police NO interest in rounding up Muslim hoodlums who intimidate peaceful church-goers?

  14. Odinius says:

    Ed, you’re misrepresenting my position.

    There’s a big difference between enforcing zoning laws, i.e. determining the location, size and other dimensions of a building, and denying permits to build a religious structure. You do understand that many of the protesters just want to stop a mosque–any mosque–being built, don’t you? If you don’t, please check out many of the comments on the facebook page or elsewhere.

    Legitimate concerns about security, i.e. its placement next to Sandhurst, or the fairly provocative dimensions of its proposed architecture are things that can be easily dealt with through existing zoning laws and community action. These would be mechanisms that do not rest upon singling out any given group for special restrictions, but rather enforcing existing rules that offer equal treatment.

    The comment about seeking to restrict the free practice of Islam refers to those people–analogous to Ross’ ‘bekasi bigots’–who seek to use issues like this in order to restrict the practice of Islam (or Christianity in Indonesia) more generally, or to ‘put them in their place.’ That doesn’t mean everyone who has an objection to a particular building has to fit that category, far from it. Perhaps not even a majority of those who do. But you’d have to be willfully blind not to see that many of those who do aren’t coming to their objections rationally and dispassionately, but through prejudice.

  15. Lotlot Aguilar says:

    It’s ironical that some zealots would do everything just to preempt the freedom of worship and only worship theirs. Similarly, to the extreme, some of them, esp. those who bombed and killed the so called “non-believers” would do that extent to please God. I don’t think God will be happy killing his creation, in the name of that religion or as a way of pleasing him.

    This is where the Christian doctrine has been feared because it is not only the love of one God Almighty that is important but as well as love to all fellow man, irrespective of religion or one’s belief! The Bible is very clear with that.

    Few quotes for those who have not read these:

    Mark 12:30 – (As spoken by Jesus) – And thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength:

    Mark 12:31 -And the second is like, name this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

    1Corinthians 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity (love), I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

    1John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

    1John 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

    1John 4:21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

    Does this brother need to be a Muslim? No, absolutely not! God refer to all mankind!

    I wish and pray that our brother and sisters in the Muslim faith, esp. those who thought that loving God only they are made perfect, at the exclusion of other brothers and sisters who may have of different faith.

    If one truly believes in their faith, why fear for others to have different belief?

    Thank you for sharing these verses of the Bible. This is not to offend anyone but to share, such as in interfaith, what Christian doctrine is all about – basically it’s love of God and of mankind!!!


  16. thomasz says:

    Let me comment on some statements regarding the minaret ban in Switzerland:

    Of the 150 mosques existing in Switzerland, only four have a minaret. Not because it could not have been built, but because there was no interest by the Muslim communities themselves. This is no different in other European countries: By far most mosques in Europe have no minarets.

    The first mosques had no minarets, too, and even nowadays the most conservative Islamic movements, like Wahhabis, avoid building minarets, seeing them as ostentatious and unnecessary. The first minaret was built long after the Prophet Mohammad died. In many parts of the Muslim world—Malaysia, Kashmir and East Africa, for example— tower minarets were virtually unknown before modern times.

    There is no Shari’ah guideline for building a minaret. Theology does not require mosques to have minarets; this is a tradition, a symbol of the presence of Muslims.

    There is no Muslim country in the world that enjoys freedom of religion as is the case in Switzerland – or any other European country. Any Muslim hate preacher can enter Switzerland with a tourist visa. No work permit or any other requirements or knowledge of local language needed. If he wishes he can even tell his audience that “non-believers are worse than animals”. And worse. Last week, Swiss TV just aired videos of such preachers in action. It was scary viewing!

    Within 20 years the Muslim population in Switzerland has increased tenfold. Switzerland has accepted hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees, mainly from ex-Yugoslavia. A huge burden for the social security system.

    Now a majority of the Swiss voters have decided against more of these visually powerful symbols of Islamic presence. How would the vote have gone in other European countries if the people had the right to hold such a vote?

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