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Saturday, 6 June 2020
'It makes us uncomfortable': Governor wants Bible in Minang language taken down from store
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From the Jakarta Post

The West Sumatra provincial administration is currently under the spotlight after its letter requesting the central government take down a Bible application from a digital distribution service circulated widely, prompting debates in the country. According to a copy of the letter obtained by The Jakarta Post, which was dated May 28 and addressed to Communication and Information Minister Johnny G. Plate, West Sumatra governor Irwan Prayitno requested the ministry take down an application named “Kitab Suci Injil Minangkabau” (The Bible in Minangkabau language) that was available on Google Play Store.

He said the existence of the application had caused Minangkabau people – most of whom are Muslim residents of the province – to be uncomfortable.

“The application contradicts Minangkabau culture with its philosophy of Adat Basandi Syarak, Syarak Basandi Kitabullah [culture is based on sharia, sharia is based on Quran],” Irwan wrote in the letter.

The finding, Jasman added, had been discussed by the West Sumatra office of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) and the West Sumatra governor. As of Wednesday, the application had been taken down from Google Play Store, he said. The issue has triggered a public uproar, not only from some West Sumatrans but also from the public across the country.

A senior journalist in West Sumatra, Syofiardi Bachyul, wrote on his Facebook account that the Minang language was not identical to Islam. He quoted his own writing in 2018, also posted on Facebook, which describes the history of Buddhism in Sumatra, including Minang land, before Islam came to the area.

When asked about the issue, MUI secretary-general Anwar Abbas echoed the statement of the West Sumatra governor, which emphasized the religious philosophy that was observed by most Minangkabau people, the one that was guided by Islamic beliefs, despite the fact that 69,253 residents -- or 1.43 percent of West Sumatra residents are Christian, 2010 census data from Statistics Indonesia (BPS) reveal.

“So, the guidance of the Minangkabau people is not the Bible. Hopefully, there will not be a Bible [published] in Minangkabau language,” Anwar told the Post on Friday.

Meanwhile, Hariyono, the deputy head of the Agency for Pancasila Ideology Education argued that the governor’s move contradicted the values of Pancasila, which give space for religious freedom.

“Every individual is given the freedom to observe their beliefs as long as they do not cause disruption in the public. And of course, some of the residents of West Sumatra are also Christian, and the governor himself is a governor to everyone, not a certain ethnicity or religious belief,” he told the Post. “Officials and public figures must be wise to respond to the dynamics of religious life in their surroundings,” he said, citing numerous figures from West Sumatra who also upheld diversity during the Indonesian struggle for independence . . .

Halili Hasan, a researcher from the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, responded to the issue by emphasizing the fact that the existence of the application did not violate the law and the Constitution. “The request from the governor could be a bad precedent, as one day it will be used by some groups that do not value diversity to do the same thing,” he told the Post. According to him, the existence of the application is indeed important for the advancement of tolerance and does no harm to Minangkabau culture

Christians in West Sumatra have experienced hardship in trying to establish churches in the province. On Christmas last year, some Catholics and Protestants in Dharmasraya regency in West Sumatra had to get into tough negotiation with the local authority to be able to celebrate Christmas at home.

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Posted on 06/06/2020 2:55 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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