Responding to the Prohibition of the Construction of the Ahmadiyah Mosque in Garut: Garut Regent's Policy is unconstitutional and must be repealed

Imparsial Media Release
No. 004/Siaran-Pers/IMP/V/2021

On Thursday, May 6th, 2021, the Regent of Garut, Rudy Gunawan, issued a Circular on the Prohibition of Activities of Adherents of the Indonesian Ahmadiyya Congregation (JAI) and the termination of the Construction of a Place of Worship for the Indonesian Ahmadiyya Congregation in Nyalindung Village, Ngamplang Village, Garut Regency. As a follow-up to this policy, The Police then sealed the construction of a mosque belonging to the Ahmadiyya Community in Nyalindung Village.

Imparsial views that the policy of banning the activities of the Indonesian Ahmadiyya Congregation and the sealing of their mosque in Nyalindung Village are unconstitutional and discriminatory actions. As part of the citizens of the country, the Ahmadiyya Congregation has an equal position and the same rights as other citizens which have been guaranteed in the 1945 Constitution, including their right to have a religion or belief. It is the obligation of the state, including in this case local government administrators, to guarantee and protect the rights and freedoms of the Indonesian Ahmadiyya Community.

Moreover, the Garut Regent's policy is also a step backwards in respecting diversity, and what is even worse is that it has the potential to sponsor the growth of various intolerance practices in society. So far, the repeated persecution and discrimination experienced by the Indonesian Ahmadiyya Congregation is not only caused by the government's omission of hatred and intolerance, but also because of the legitimacy of policies from the government. Therefore, it is very unfortunate that instead of being present to protect the rights of its citizens, in this case the local government has actually become the perpetrator of acts of discrimination and legitimizes the persecution of religious adherents whose rights are protected by the Constitution.

The Regent as the Chief of the region, must present positive and pro-diversity political leadership, namely by making various policies that recognize and include all groups regardless of religious background or belief. This must be realized by guaranteeing and ensuring that every person and group regardless of religion or belief can enjoy their rights and freedoms equally, safely, free from fear and intimidation. Not the other way around, they are subject to mass pressure by making policies that are biased towards the will and interests of the majority, and discriminatory towards minority groups.

Imparsial assesses, that the prohibition of activities and actions to seal places of worship of the Ahmadiyya Congregation in Garut Regency is a wrong action because it is contrary to the Constitution which has guaranteed freedom for everyone to carry out worship or religious activities according to their religion or belief. Decree of 3 Ministers in 2008 and West Java Governor Regulation No. 12/2011 should not be used as a reference to reduce the constitutional rights of citizens to carry out worship/religious rituals in accordance with their religion/belief.

In the context of freedom of religion or belief, citizens who have been strongly guaranteed in the Constitution, it is important to understand that houses of worship (including mosques) are an inseparable part of the exercise of these rights. The establishment and use of places of worship must be based on the real needs of the adherents, and in this case the government is obliged to facilitate licensing of the establishment and use of places of worship, as well as real needs substantively in accordance with the wishes of adherents of the religious teachings or beliefs.

Thus, in the case that occurred in Garut, if there are other groups who reject the establishment and construction of mosques by the Ahmadiyya Community, it is the duty of the local government to facilitate dialogue, and the Regent as the embodiment of state representatives in the regions, has the obligation to protect and guarantee the rights of Ahmadiyya's Jama'at, instead of carrying out acts of persecution by issuing discriminatory policies.

Based on the foregoing, Imparsial recommends that:

  1. The Regent of Garut immediately revoked the Circular No. 451.1/1605/Bakesbangpol and stopped the sealing of the Ahmadiyah Mosque which was being built in Nyalindung Village, Ngamplang Village, Cilawu District;
  2. The government revokes the Decree of 3 Ministers concerning Warnings and Orders to Adherents, Members, and/or Members of the Management of the Indonesian Ahmadiyah Congregation (JAI) and Community Members;
  3. The West Java Provincial Government revoked the West Java Governor Regulation No. 12 of 2011 concerning the Prohibition of Activities of the Indonesian Ahmadiyya Congregation in West Java;
  4. The Government and Regional Governments are obliged to facilitate and guarantee the rights of their citizens to be able to worship according to their religion or belief, as well as carry out restoration of the rights of victims who have been violated as a result of the acts of persecution that have occurred;
  5. The Government and Regional Governments need to develop various policies that promote tolerance and strengthen the right to KBB, and at the same time take a firm stand against the practice of intolerance that occurs in society.

Jakarta, May 9th, 2021

IMPARSIAL, the Indonesian Human Rights Monitor

Contact person:

  1. Gufron Mabruri – Direktur (081213340612)
  2. Ardi Manto Adiputra – Wakil Direktur 081261944069)
  3. Evitarossi S. Budiawan – Koor. Peneliti (081219192143)
  4. Annisa Yudha – Peneliti (085711784064)
  5. Amalia Suri – Peneliti (082367832141)
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