Low tolerance linked to cities that favour certain religious identities: Setara

CNN Indonesia – April 7, 2023
Setara Institute Executive Director Halili Hasan speaking to the media – Undated (Monitor)

Jakarta – The results of Setara Institute for Peace and Democracy research reveal that the city of Cilegon in Banten province occupies the 94th position or the lowest ranking in the 2022 City Tolerance Index with a score of 3.227. First place or the most tolerant city was secured by Singkawang, West Kalimantan, with a score of 6.583.

Following Cilegon in the lowest rankings is Depok city in West Java, which is in 93rd place or the second most intolerant city. Then in 92nd position is the city of Padang in West Sumatra, Sabang city in Aceh in 91st position and Mataram city in West Nusa Tenggara in 90th position.

Setara Institute Executive Director Halili Hasan said that one of the factors in the cities with the lowest tolerance ranking is municipal governments that prioritise certain religious identities.

"Both in terms of vision and mission, they tend to issue policies of religious identity favoritism that represent themselves", said Hasan in a statement.

Not only that, Hasan said that municipal governments have a tendency to organise programs that are exclusive and are only orientated towards certain groups. This cannot be separated from the perspective of majorityism or the perspective of minority-majority victimism which is the basis for organising policies.

"Civil society in cities with perspectives of favouritism and formalism tend to lose their power of democratic reasoning. The power of critical community interaction is weakened and there is neglect of minority groups", said Hasan.

Not only that, Hasan said that in cities with a low tolerance index there is the factor of municipal governments that fail to maintain harmony and tolerance in the lives of communities. Municipal governments, he continued, also tend not to facilitate the freedom to celebrate religious holidays.

"If this situation persists continuously, acts of violence against vulnerable groups can occur easily, because society has lost the power to find the glue that binds relationships between groups with different identities", he said.

The city of Cilegon was once in the public spotlight because it was known as a city that did not have any houses of worship for the Christian community. This polemic was revealed when a plan to build a church by Maranatha Batak Christian Protestant Church (HKBP) in Cilegon was rejected.

The issue began after there was momentum to collect signatures for a petition opposing the construction of the church by the local community. Moreover the Cilegon mayor and deputy mayor both signed the petition.

In September 2022 Cilegon Deputy Mayor Helmy Agustian once commented on this polemic. He claimed that the licensing process for church's construction was still being processed at the sub-district level and had not yet reached the mayor's office.

"First, this is in process, the process is at the sub-district level. So it's never reached the mayor's office. As for what was given yesterday that was information on how the process was running", Agustian said after meeting Minister of Religion Yaqut Cholil Qoumas at the Ministry of Religion Affairs offices in Central Jakarta on Wednesday September 14.

There has yet to be any statements from the cities cited by the Setara Institute in its research, including Cilegon and Depok.

PKS questions research

The Islamic based Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS) meanwhile expressed doubts about the Setara Institute research. As reported by Detik, PKS spokesperson Muhammad Kholid highlighted the life of religious communities in Depok where the mayor is a leading member of the PKS.

"We doubt the findings. The empirical fact is that religious harmony in Depok is very good", Kholid told journalists on Friday April 7.

Kholid referred to data from the Ministry of Religion, namely the Religious Community Harmony (KUB) index in Depok, which he said is quite high. According to Kholid, inter-religious life in Depok is harmonious.

"The Religious Community Harmony index in Depok is characterised as high compared with the average national KUB index. The KUB index is officially released by the Indonesian Ministry of Religion and measures the level of tolerance, equality and cooperation between religious communities. And we can also witness that a harmonious inter-religious life in Depok has been forged", said Kholid.

Kholid also mentioned that the Depok municipal government has implemented affirmative policies for all religious communities through the Spiritual Guidance program that supports religious activities for all religious communities in a fair manner. (rzr/sur)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Riset Setara Institute: Cilegon Jawara Kota Intoleran, Depok Kedua".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20230407144627-20-934865/riset-setara-institute-cilegon-jawara-kota-intoleran-depok-kedua