Damaged Christian Cross in Yogyakarta and the Decay of Tolerance



Petir Garda Bhwana

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  • The vandalized cross symbol on a Christian grave in a public cemetery in Jambon, Yogyakarta.

    The vandalized cross symbol on a Christian grave in a public cemetery in Jambon, Yogyakarta.

    TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Setara Institute research director Halili argues that the damaged cross symbol on top of a grave of a Christian man that happened in Yogyakarta indicates a weakened social basis in the region upon establishing tolerance.

    “The acts done by the majority groups cannot be justified based on the perspective of diversity and constitutional rights equality on religious beliefs,” said Halili in Jakarta on Wednesday, December 19.

    This case of intolerance, according to Halili, shows that the strengthening religious conservatism has reached the lowest social group. Halili said that it not just bolsters identity politics but also severely increases the fear against a different identity symbol and the eventually written truce is plainly demanding minorities’ sincerity.

    The case started when a group of locals requested the deceased family to partially cut the cross symbol that was placed on top of the final resting place of Catholic Albertus Slamet Sugiardi at the Jambon cemetery in Kotagede, Yogyakarta.

    The basis of their request is that they do not want symbols other than Islamic symbols in the cemetery which they claim would later be turned into an exclusively Muslim cemetery. Not only that, but they also demanded that Albertus’ grave placed at the outer area of the public cemetery.

    This resulted in the vertical piece of the Christian cross symbol to be cut down and left it resembling more of that a ‘T’ alphabet.

    Despite attracting attention and firm responses from Setara Institute, Indonesian Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo, and Yogyakarta’s Commission on Justice for Peace and Integrity of Creation, Yogyakarta’s Governor Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono X maintained that the region he leads is far from being intolerant and blames the attention toward the destroyed Christian cross symbol on the fact that the case went viral.