Bandung Mayor Ridwan Kamil said his administration has issued more than 300 permits for non-Muslim houses of worship in the past five years to promote unity in diversity, one of the country’s mottos known by its Sanskrit-derived formulation “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika.”
Speaking after being named as one of a number of “pro-pluralism figures” in Indonesia by the Greater Bandung Christian Youth, Ridwan said the city has done its best to allow minority groups to build their houses of worships.
He claimed the Bandung administration had issued around 60 permits for this type of establishment every year in the past five years.
“I believe the majority of people in Bandung are tolerant,” Ridwan said on Sunday (29/01).
Ridwan has served as mayor in the West Java capital since 2013.
Building non-Muslim houses of worship had become a convoluted process since 2006 when former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono pushed for the issuance of a joint decree between the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Home Affairs Ministry regulating the opening of such establishment.
The decree includes a number of complicated requirements to build non-Muslim houses of worship, including approvals from at least 90 neighborhoods in the area.
The joint decree also discriminated against minority Ahmadi worshipers, who had since been driven out of many cities.
Despite having issued the permits, Bandung is still considered as one of the most intolerant cities in Indonesia.
In November 2015, human rights think-thank group Setara Institute had named Bandung in its top five list of the most intolerant cities in Indonesia along with Bogor, Bekasi, Tangerang and Depok.