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Authorities pledge to withdraw permits for Christian schools in Indonesia

Indonesia church

The Gamaliel Christian School Foundation has met all requirements for the construction of a new school, however, local authorities are withdrawing the permit after a Muslim protest on Friday that included a banned Islamic extremist group.

Representatives of the banned Islamic Defenders Front participated in the march through the city of Parepare, along with hundreds of local residents, Muslim leaders, members of the Indonesian Association of Muslim Intellectuals and the Soreang Society Alliance.

Hundreds of inhabitants gathered at the Al Amin Mosque, in Soreang Permai Estate, Parepare, and signed a statement opposing the construction of the school on the 30th of September.

Pressurised by Muslim opposition, Parepare’s council agreed to withdraw the permits to build the Christian school, claiming it could potentially cause tension and volatility. They have not issued an official revocation of permission letter yet.

One of the demonstrators said: “We are the most tolerant people – Muslims need no education on tolerance. We live in a neighbourhood with non-Muslims and provide food to each other; we never disturb others’ worship, but it is intolerance if you build a Christian school in a majority Muslim community.”

The council chairman, two deputies and a member of the council addressed the demonstrators. According to a council member: “We are trying to avoid any conflict in the community.”

Sinta, the deputy chairman of the Gamaliel Christian Education Foundation, explained that the school had acquired the necessary permits for construction, in line with all relevant regulations and approved by authorities: “We have fulfilled all permits before building.”

She also said that the building permit process was not as controversial as local Muslims claimed.

According to Bonar Tigor Naipospos, deputy chairman of the Setara Institute – which advocates democracy, religious freedom and human rights in Indonesia – “The case was a clear sign of state subordination to the will of the intolerant groups. Local political constellations and electoral interests, in gaining support from the masses, make public officials choose sides and accommodate the demands of intolerant groups. They intentionally ignore it, even though it is considered to violate the constitution.”


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