Majlis Taklim accuses foundation in West Java of ‘Christianization,’ demands closure
(Compass Direct) – A Muslim community group called Majlis Taklim on April 9 entered the premises of a Christian social institution in West Java, Indonesia, demanding its closure for the fifth time this year.
The Apostolic Nation Building Foundation (ABB) operates from a residential building in the Griya Bintara Indah housing complex in Bintara sub-district, West Bekasi district, West Java.
Around 70 Majlis Taklim members came to the ABB headquarters on April 9 and told the foundation to cease all activities, accusing them of running an illegal church and trying to “Christianize” the community.
Staff immediately called the police, who arrived and monitored the situation; there was no violence.
Majlis Taklim coordinator Radesman Saragih said the group had observed people entering the building for worship services on Sunday mornings. “The foundation is only a façade to cover up the real activities of the church,” Saragih said.
Saragih also said the foundation lacked a proper permit. “We ask the foundation to restore the house’s proper function – that is, as a place to live, not as a church,” he continued. Saragih said church members should take the warning seriously or be prepared to face unspecified negative consequences.
Sarah Fifi, director of ABB, denied claims that the foundation – which operates from her home – was functioning as a church. “We are a Christian social institution, non-profit and independent,” she said. “We have a vision to strengthen our nation through education, free medication and environmental programs – any activities that help the community.”
Fifi said local authorities had given permission to use her home as a base for the foundation. She added that some 20 staff members gathered at her home every Sunday morning from 7 to 9 a.m. for a prayer meeting, followed by a briefing and evaluation session.
Throughout the week, the staff members provide educational classes to kindergarten and elementary school students. ABB also gives free medical treatment to needy families and prisoners and offers workshops on nutrition and general health.
Established in 2001, the foundation also offers agricultural programs, along with a number of scholarships to children from low-income families.
ABB is legally registered under a notary’s act dated June 19, 2001. The foundation was also registered in Bekasi district court on October 22, 2001 with the file number 231/Y/2001/PN.Bekasi. ABB also has a branch office in Ambon in the Maluku
Fifi said the foundation had the community’s best interests at heart. “We always pay attention to the religious sensitivities of the people around us,” she said. ABB also obtaines consent from local authorities before conducting programs.
Local government officials have promised to organize a meeting for negotiation between ABB staff and Majlis Taklim members, but at press time had set no date.
According to Fifi, Muslim neighbors have expressed support and appreciation for the work of the foundation. Fifi suspects the recent hostility comes from more extreme Muslim groups in other parts of West Java who have intensified their campaign against churches and Christian activity over the past two years.
© 2006 Compass Direct