Jakarta (ANTARA) - President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) should take firm actions against regional leaders and security officers failing to protect the constitutional rights of worship, Chairperson of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI) Rev. Gomar Gultom, stated.

"I urge the president to use his authority to take action against district heads, mayors, and security officers, who failed to protect the freedom of religion assured by the Constitution," Gultom noted here Wednesday.

Gultom's statements were made in response to the president's statement calling regional leaders to respect the rights of worship of religious minorities at the 2023 Regional Heads and Regional Leadership Coordination Forum National Coordination Meeting in Bogor, West Java, on Tuesday (January 17).

The PGI welcomed Jokowi's statement reiterating that the religious rights and rights of worship of the Indonesian people are protected by the Constitution.

However, all parties must not deny that right to worship for religious minorities remains a contentious issue in some regions, he remarked while highlighting difficulties to construct a place of worship as a recurring issue often encountered by religious minorities.

Gultom stated that in some cases, regional leaders and security officers instead bowed down to public pressure to restrict worship activities undertaken by religious minorities and refused to issue a permit to construct a place of worship.

Moreover, in other cases, the Regional Religious Harmony Forum (FKUB), which ought to facilitate the development of places of worship, also caved into public pressure and was echoing the stance opposing development.

The PGI head remarked that district heads, mayors, and security officers exist because of the Constitution that they must uphold, including by protecting religious minorities.

Lastly, he urged the home affairs minister and religious affairs minister to improve regulations regarding the building permit.

"I also ask the president to instruct the police to take action against those, who often interrupt religious worship," Gultom remarked.

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Translator: M Zulfikar, Nabil Ihsan
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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