TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The attack to Deleng Lagan Batak Protestant Church (HKBP) in Gunung Meriah, Aceh Singkil, on Tuesday (13/10) has to be condemned.
The incident once again shows that in a country with the motto ‘Bhineka Tunggal Ika’ (unity in diversity), intolerance is still fast growing.
Yet, this is not the first incident that happened in Singkil, Aceh, which share a border with North Sumatera province.
In September 2005, a church in Siompin Village, Surou Sub-District was also burned down. The attack was triggered by the same reason: local residents objected to a private house made as a place of worship.
The conflict should not have happened if the regional government and the police could take a firm and strong action.
Regency governments have indeed arranged a meeting between religious figures and the people. The meeting eventually agreed to demolish a number of ‘troubled’ churches on October 18. However, the tension was already heated up. Provocation has also been spread.
One night before the attack, news went viral on the social media about the plan. Strangely enough, no adequate measures were made.
Rejection for or attacks to places of worship always happen to the places of worship of minority groups.
On Eid Day this year, a number of people attacked a mosque in Tolikara, West Papua province.
In Bogor, a church in Taman Yasmin was opposed by a number of people; thus, its congregation could not worship.
Previously, in a number of regions, attacks and intimidation happened to the Ahmadis and Shiah Moslems.
Those rejections and attacks clearly violate the constitution, in which Article 29 of the 1945 Constitution guarantees the freedom of worship for all citizens according to his/her own religion/belief.
The violation of the meaning of tolerance as stated in the constitution is even reflected in a joint ministerial decree between the Minister of Religious Affairs and the Minister of Home Affairs Number 8 and 9 of 2006.
The joint decree regulates among others, the establishment of places of worship, something that is actually against the spirit of tolerance.
In Article 14, for example, it is stated that the establishment of places of worship must be supported by a minimum of 90 of its users, in addition to approval from 60 residents living near the building of worship to be built.
The government should not restrict the establishment of places of worship and should leave this religious issue to their followers.
The authorities only have to regulate administrative and technical requirements, just like it regulates other buildings.
This is why, the joint decree of the two ministers have to be revoked. As for places of worship that have already been built, the government needs to grant the permit.
In order to prevent Aceh Singkil incident from happenning again, the police must investigate all sides involved in the attack.
The state must send a strong message that intolerant acts basically violate the constitution and have to be punished. Without the message, intolerant actions will spread everywhere.