Christian funeral service held in courtyard of mosque in Jakarta goes viral amid Indonesia's rising intolerance

A funeral service for a Christian is held in the front yard of a mosque in Cempaka Baru, Central Jakarta, on Aug. 25.
PHOTO: Facebook/Jeferson Goeltom

Amid reports of intolerance between ethnic groups and religious communities, pictures showing a Christian funeral service in the courtyard of a mosque has attracted people's attention on the internet.

The pictures were uploaded on Monday on the Facebook account of Jeferson Goeltom, who wrote in his post that they were the pictures from the funeral of his nephew's wife. The post has been shared almost 10,000 times on Facebook and received more than 38,000 likes as of Saturday afternoon.

Indahnya Harmoni & Toleransi di Cempaka Putih. Hari ini mengikuti kebaktian Tutup peti, dimana istri keponakan meninggal...

Posted by Jeferson Goeltom on Monday, 26 August 2019

Three pictures in the Facebook post show a white-robed priest standing in front of a casket decorated with a floral cross, while the people attending the ceremony are sitting on plastic chairs.

Some Muslim men wearing their kufi skullcaps can also be seen in the pictures.

"Our house is located in a narrow alley, which the coffin was too big to pass through. It was a great blessing that we felt to be allowed to do the ceremony in front of the mosque," Jeferson wrote.

"This is a form of super high tolerance. Thank you, the mosque caretakers and my local folks."

The mosque turned out to be the Darussalam Mosque located on Jl. Cempaka Baru Tengah, Kemayoran, Central Jakarta.

Agus, 45, one of the caretakers of the mosque, said the service was also held on Monday, the same day as when the pictures were posted.

"[Jeferson] represented the family to talk to the mosque head to ask for permission to use the courtyard, because of the narrow alley situation," Agus said on Thursday, as quoted by kompas.com.

As observed, the path to the family's home is indeed narrow. The entrances to the alley are not even 1 meter wide. There is no other choice other than to use the mosque's courtyard.

After the mosque head allowed them to use the mosque's courtyard for the funeral, the service began at around 12:30 p.m. and lasted for 30 minutes before the coffin was closed and taken to the cemetery, Agus recalled.

Agus said the mosque had to postpone its Quran study so as not to disturb the service happening in the courtyard.

"We have a weekly Quran study every Monday taking place after shalat dzuhur (midday prayer) and lasting until shalat ashar (afternoon prayer). The study was postponed until 2:30 p.m.," said Agus.

Shalat dzuhur, which is performed at around noon, and shalat ashar, which is performed at around 3 to 4 p.m., are two of the five obligatory prayers for Muslims.

"Alhamdulillah [thank God], I have lived here for 30 years. It is safe here for everybody. Those who celebrate Christmas, they are allowed. Those who celebrate Idul Fitri, they are also welcome," Agus said.

"People here have a high sense of tolerance and have never clashed with each other just for differences. The whole country should learn, we cannot disturb the value of Bhineka Tunggal Ika [Unity in Diversity]."

The story has also spread on Twitter and sparked discussion on the beauty of diversity.

Comedian and filmmaker Ernest Prakarsa on his Twitter account @ErnestPrakasa said "[We] really need news like this."

Ernest's post had been retweeted more than 3,800 times as of Saturday afternoon. Twitter user Thahir Syaugi, on account @thahirsyaugi, responded to Ernest's tweet and agreed that the nation needed to see more news like that.

"Many acts of tolerance happen around us from all religions, both minority and majority, unfortunately we often only see the intolerance stories."

This story is probably what the capital needs the most right now amid the rising intolerance in Jakarta.

In 2017, human rights group Setara Institute revealed that Jakarta was at the bottom of a list of 94 cities studied from November 2016 to October 2017.

The study, called "The 2017 Index of Tolerant Cities," measured cities' medium-term regional development plans, government actions and statements, discriminatory policies, intolerant acts and demographic composition based on the harmony among people of different groups.

In 2018, rights group Wahid Foundation also named Jakarta the most intolerant province in the country, as it found that most violations related to religious freedom throughout 2017 occurred in the capital.

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