Amid increasing acts of intolerance occurring in the country recently, the police have admitted that their role in enforcing the law against intolerant groups needs to be strengthened.
National Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Awi Setiyono said many police officers were still not firm in carrying out their duties, particularly when dealing with cases related to religious issues.
“One factor that fuels the growing intolerance is the weak law enforcement by police personnel on intolerant religious organizations,” Awi said during a dialogue on religious tolerance in Indonesia hosted by rights group the Wahid Foundation on Thursday in Jakarta.
Awi said although National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian had repeatedly taken a bold stance against intolerant acts such as those based on circulating fatwa issued by the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), it had yet to influence police personnel across the country in taking a stand.
“In Surabaya, for example, instead of dissolving a radical Muslim group that carried out a raid, the police escorted them,” Awi said, referring to a raid by Islam Defenders Front (FPI) members on shopping malls in the East Java capital to check whether outlets had ordered employees to wear Christmas attire, such as Santa hats.
Throughout 2016, Awi said, the police had recorded 25 major cases related to religious intolerance, which included a case in Samarinda, East Kalimantan, where an Islamic extremist threw Molotov cocktails into a church, which killed a toddler and injured several others.