Islamic Jihad Front disperses Christian camp in Yogyakarta

Kamp-Wonogondang-620x330The Jakarta Post, Yogyakarta; The Islamic Jihad Front (FJI), with police backing, has broken up a camping event of 1,500 Christian elementary and junior high school students at the Wonogondang camping ground in Cangkringan, Sleman, Yogyakarta.

Members of the FJI claimed that the event, organized by a church from Surakarta, Central Java, was not equipped with a full permit from the police.

“Local residents were restless about the presence of Christianization and unauthorized activities,” Yogyakarta chapter FJI commander Abdul Rohman told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

The dispersal took place on Wednesday, as the event was about to begin, when dozens of FJI members and those from other Islamic groups arrived at the location and demanded to see permits from the organizers.

The group members also removed banners, blocked the road and prevented participants from outside the city from entering the camping ground, located on the foot of Mount Merapi.

The camp, themed “Reclaiming His Love,” was organized by an Advent church in Surakarta and was scheduled to run from July 1 to 5.

Participants arrived from various cities outside Yogyakarta, and from districts as far away as Central Java, East Java, Jakarta and Sumatra.

“Had the permits been completed, it wouldn’t have mattered,” said Abdul, who claimed that he came to the location at the invitation of the local residents of Wonogondang.

Separately, Sleman Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Faried Zulkarnean said that he deployed 80 police personnel after receiving information that FJI and other Muslim groups would meet at the location.

“We arrived to provide security for every camping participant,” said Faried.

He said that apparently the camping organizers were not yet equipped with a complete permit from the police, and had a permit only from the Cangkringan district police.

“It is a religious activity which involves participants from outside the province. They should have notified the Sleman, Yogyakarta and National Police headquarters and the Religious Affairs Ministry,” said Faried.

During mediation between FJI and event organizers, Faried asked the organizers to meet licensing requirements.

The organizers left the location on Thursday morning. As yet, none of them could be reached.

Wonogondang Campgrounds manager Bambang Kotir claimed that he had arranged a permit for the event only up to the police sector.

“The organizers claimed they had requested permission from top-rank police officials at the National Police headquarters, and that they had received verbal permission, but this verbal permission had not yet being written down,” said Bambang.

He added that residents providing tour, lodging and food services around the site feel deprived by the cancellation. According to plan, the participants would enjoy nature excursions and learn how to make batik.

Meanwhile, Friends of Freedom of Religion and Faith (Sobat KKB) activist Dwi Rusbiyati expressed regret over the incident. She said that the Yogyakarta Police should be more willing to protect minority groups.

“If something was lacking in the licensing procedures, the police should have helped to complete it,” said Dwi.

Dwi added that FJI’s claim that the camp constituted a Christianization effort was a baseless fear that could not be proved, because the event was only intended for elementary and junior high school pupils.

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