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Jakarta: Indep Arts Centre Under Attack from Religious Extremists [Sep. 8th, 2005|09:47 am]
::singafemmes::the feminist response in singapore

singafemmes

[funk_odyssey]
Dear all,

Kommunitas Utan Kayu in Jakarta, a "sister"
institution to The Substation has come under
attack from religious extremists.

Goenawan Mohamad and other artists from the
community have been camping out at the centre to
protect the building:

Please send your words of solidarity to
Community Utan Kayu, c/o Hasif Amini <hasif@gmx.net>

Lucy & Weng Choy



On Monday, 6 September 2005, following fresh
threats of violence from hardliners, the Utan
Kayu Community (KUK) released a press statement
read by its founder, Goenawan Mohamad. The
statement is as follows:

1. We, as workers in the fields of culture,
media, and education at Komunitas Utan Kayu,
declare that we will continue our efforts to
maintain and expand the freedom of thought and
freedom of expression guaranteed in the
Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia.
2. We reject all efforts to suppress differences in thought and
religion.
3. We believe that difference of opinion is
a God-given right. Further, that discussion and
difference of opinion play a vital part in the
democratization of our nation.
4. We will not accept any individual or
group that uses the name of God to justify
arbitrary threats and violence.
5. We will not allow harrassment and
despotism to prevail thus dragging Indonesia to a
state of lawlessness and anarchy.
6. We call upon the Indonesian security
apparatus to protect the rule of law as mandated
by the Constitution.



1.

In the last month, the Utan Kayu cultural centre
in East Jakarta has been standing sentry against
a planned attack by conservative Indonesian
Muslim groups who feel that the centre’s Liberal
Islam Network (JIL) has insulted them and the
Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI).

In a recent radio talk show, JIL co-founder Ulil
Abshar Abdala has labeled the edicts issued by
MUI "foolish." He publicly apologized for his
statement, but defended his right to criticize
the edicts.

Ulil pointed to several edicts that he felt were
baseless, such as those banning pluralism and
joint prayers, and especially the one declaring
the Ahmadiyah sect to be a heretical movement,
and its followers to be murtad (apostates).

"The Ahmadis have suffered from various physical
and emotional pressures, such as intimidation,
threats and the destruction of their mosques,
while they are in fact a part of Islam," Ulil
argued.

He said that the MUI should be reformed to better reflect Islam in
Indonesia.

"The MUI itself has to reflect the variety of
Islamic communities that are united in Islam
despite the differences and diversity between
Islamic sects," he said.



2.

The fatwas (edicts) issued by the Indonesian
Ulemas Council (MUI) concerning intra and
inter-religious issues in the country have
generated concerns and criticisms from other
scholars and the public, and clearly demonstrates
that there is still a semantic and intellectual
gap among the religious elites themselves about
how to deal with religious diversity and freedom.
Religious freedom does not seem to have won over
the minds of many religious elites, or for that
matter, the public in general.

The MUI fatwas that prohibit interfaith prayer,
interfaith marriage, interfaith inheritance,
religious pluralism, liberalism, secularism, and
Ahmadiyah, are largely counter-productive to the
ideals of freedom of religion and religious
tolerance when one strand of religious
interpretation has to be introduced to the public
in order to attack other interpretations existing
in the community.

While the edicts clearly contradict the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, specifically one
article of which states that “everyone has the
right to freedom of thought, conscience and
religion; this right includes freedom to change
his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone
or in community with others and in public or
private, to manifest this religion or belief in
teaching, practice, worship and observance”, the
problem is manifest in Indonesia’s vague
constitutional guarantees of religious freedom.

Article 28 (e) of the amended 1945 Constitution
and article 22 of the Human Rights Law No.
39/1999 both touch upon freedom of religion, but
provide no strong protections. They do not
guarantee the freedom of religion as stipulated
in article 18 of the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Human
Rights Committee “jurisprudence”.

They also do not define what it means to have
freedom of religion, what the limitations are,
and what the government’s obligations are to
ensure that the constitutional provisions will be
respected and can be adjudicated in a court of
law.

More narrowly, the Indonesian Criminal Code
(KUHP) contains laws that are also vague and that
conflict with religious freedoms, particularly
the right to hold a differing interpretation of a
religion.

Article 156 (a) of the KUHP imposes maximum 5
years in jail for “disgracing a religion”. The
problem is that “disgracing a religion” has been
interpreted to include having a differing view or
interpretation of a religious question. This law
not only conflicts with supposed protections in
the Constitution and 1999 Human Rights Law, but
it also severely restricts the rights of freedom
of thought, conscience, and religion as
stipulated in article 18 of the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Article 18 is intended to bar “coercion that
would impair the right to have or adopt a
religion or belief, including the use of threat
of physical force or penal sanctions to compel
believers or non-believers to adhere to their
religious beliefs and congregations, to recant
their religion or belief or to convert.”

In a recent controversy, Article 156 (a) of the
KUHP was applied by the police in Malang to
investigate Muhammad Yusman Roy for conducting
Islamic ritual prayers (shalat) in two languages,
Arabic and Indonesian. In their investigation,
the police referred to the MUI fatwa, which
stated that it is against Islamic teachings and
thus forbidden to use the Indonesian language
when performing shalat prayers.

For Muhamad Yusman Roy, this was a matter of
interpretation within Islam. For the clerics in
the MUI, it was a matter of “disgracing” the
religion. International human rights standards,
which provide clear guarantees of religious
freedom and interpretation, strongly favor Roy’s
position, while vague and contradictory
Indonesian laws create confusion and leave the
matter to the discretion of the police.

A fatwa from the MUI declaring Ahmadiyah
teachings to be against the Koran and thus
forbidden was used by the IMS to justify a
violent attack on Ahmadiyah. Not only is it
inappropriate for groups to use coercion and take
the law into their own hands, but it is the
responsibility of the police to protect basic
religious freedoms. Bogor police did not arrest
any of the attackers. The authorities there
rather ordered a halt to Ahmadiyah’s activities.
The Attorney General, Abdul Rachman Saleh, even
threatened to use his broad powers to ban
organizations, teachings and books considered to
be “disruptive to public order,” against
Ahmadiyah.

The government recognized Ahmadiyah as a legal
entity in 1953. But the Ministry of Religious
Affairs issued a circular to its regional offices
labeling Ahmadiyah teachings as heresy because it
recognizes its founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, as a
prophet.

Ahamadiyah denied all the allegations and stated
that its teachings were not heresy.

Banning Ahmadiyah, with an estimated 500,000
followers, would be in clear violation of article
18 of the ICCPR. The government could be
adjudicated at the Indonesian Administrative
Court (PTUN) for imposing such a ban.

The weakness of the 1945 Constitution and the
Human Rights Law, the existence of Article 156
(a) of the KUHP, the limited mandate of the Human
Rights Court that has no power to adjudicate
human rights cases outside “crimes of genocide”
and “crimes against humanity,” have all created
serious legal uncertainties.

These uncertainties have created a
life-threatening atmosphere for individuals or
organizations that happen to have different
interpretations of Islam from those decreed
through MUI edicts.

MUI fatwas are not legally binding instruments
and thus do not provide a legal foundation for
authorities to infringe on religious freedoms.



3.

Clearly, MUI’s close relationship with the
government and its perceived and actual authority
among the Muslim populace has given it the
license to monopolize religious interpretation.
The danger cannot be overstated for a fatwa can
have considerable implications for the attitude
of many Muslims. Criticisms leveled by national
Muslim leaders and the public against certain
fatwas indicate that they are very much aware of
the powerful role of such edicts on the minds and
behavior of the Muslim community. A fatwa can
influence followers to become violent and
vandalistic. A fatwa that encourages intolerance
can be used to justify the use of violence among
religious followers as attested by the Utan Kayu
Community’s current predicament.

On Monday, 6 September 2005, following fresh
threats of violence from hardliners, the Utan
Kayu Community (KUK) released a press statement
read by its founder, Goenawan Mohamad. The
statement is as follows:

1. We, as workers in the fields of culture,
media, and education at Komunitas Utan Kayu,
declare that we will continue our efforts to
maintain and expand the freedom of thought and
freedom of expression guaranteed in the
Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia.
2. We reject all efforts to suppress differences in thought and
religion.
3. We believe that difference of opinion is
a God-given right. Further, that discussion and
difference of opinion play a vital part in the
democratization of our nation.
4. We will not accept any individual or
group that uses the name of God to justify
arbitrary threats and violence.
5. We will not allow harrassment and
despotism to prevail thus dragging Indonesia to a
state of lawlessness and anarchy.
6. We call upon the Indonesian security
apparatus to protect the rule of law as mandated
by the Constitution.





Komunitas Utan Kayu

1. Liberal Islam Network

2. Radio 68H

3. Teater Utan Kayu

4. Institut Studi Arus Informasi (ISAI,
Institute for the Free-Flow of Information)

5. Lontar Gallery

6. Kalam Bookstore

7. Kalam Journal of Culture

8. Utan Kayu Library

9. Tempo Café

(Sources: Ridason Galingging, The Jakarta Post 12
August 05, Muhamad Ali, JP 8 August 05, JP 07
Sept 05)
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