Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Slamet Sumiarto (picture 1), a Catholic painter, is the latest victim of religious intolerance in Yogyakarta special region after he and his family were expelled from a village because they are not Muslim.
The artist has just moved his family to Karet, a village in Pleret sub-district (Bantul Regency), but the local chief and residents refused to accept their presence and ordered them to leave on the basis of a local regulation (picture 2).
Slamet yesterday posted a video on social media complaining about the situation. This has sparked a controversy across the country, prompting the authorities to open an investigation.
“I just moved here to Pleret and brought all my stuff and paintings to Karet,” said the painter. “Today I am very sad to know that I do not have the ‘right’ to stay and live here simply because I am not a Muslim and my whole family is Catholic.”
“From an emotional point of view, I am really exhausted from this unexpected experience,” he said. “My poor wife, my children and I hope to soon find a good solution to this problem so that I could stay here, in this rented house in Pleret”.
The video drew public attention to the matter and prompted Bantul Regency officials to organise a meeting to solve the issue to satisfy both the Catholic family and local Muslims.
Although an agreement was reached to let Slamet and his family to live in the village under the supervision of the authorities, the painter eventually decided to leave and find accommodation elsewhere.
Regency officials criticised “the dominant opinion” among Karet residents, acknowledging that it is a sign of “intolerance” contrary to the law.
In his complaint, Slamet himself notes that “the ban on non-Muslims from living in Karet makes no sense and contradicts Pancasila as well as the Constitution of 1945″. Pancasila is Indonesia’s pluralist state ideology.
Village chief Iswanto said that the bylaw – 03/Pokgiat/Krt/Plt/X/2015 – has been in place since 2015, and that it also applies to followers of “traditional beliefs“.
Under the bylaw, non-Muslims are not allowed to buy property and land. “The regulation is the result of a common agreement among all village members,” Iswanto explained.
Bantul Regency is not new to episodes of religious sectarianism. In January 2017, radical Muslims launched a massive pressure campaign against Yulius Suharto, head of the Pajangan sub-district. The extremists wanted him removed because he was a Catholic.
Another well-known case occurred in Banguntapan, a suburb of Yogyakarta (Central Java). In February 2018, Islamic fundamentalist groups disrupted the charity works of the Catholic community in St. Paul’s Pringgolayan to celebrate the construction of a church in Bantul Regency’s newest parish.
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