THE RECENT demolition of mosques in the context of various urban development projects in Jakarta has worried a number of Muslim inhabitants. On 20 October 1993, the Secretary-General of the Yayasan Masjid Cut Mutiah, Imam Syafi’i, in an interview with the daily Pelita stated that 350 mosques in Jakarta would be demolished for road construction without any definite replacement. He was worried that such a large-scale demolition would create a discrepancy between physical and spiritual development and contribute to the growth of juvenile delinquency and other deleterious phenomena. (PE, 22 Oct. 1993)
Meanwhile, both the Chairmen of the Jakarta branches of the Dewan Masjid Indo¬nesia (DMI – Indonesian Mosques Council), and the Ikatan Masjid dan Musholla Indonesia (IMAMI – Indonesian Association of Mosques and Prayer Rooms), respectively K.H. Masyhuri Syahid and H.M. Ichwanuddin D.M., expressed their great concern about these demolitions. Masyhuri Syahid emphasized that mosques were not only used for ritual activities, but also had important social and other functions.
Geys Ammar of Al-Irsyad voiced his regrets about the fact that new mosques built to replace those demolished were not located at strategic places. Urban development in Jakarta revealed a tendency toward secularism, he added. Like Masyhuri Syahid, he also underlined the value of mosques as historical monuments. (PE, 23, 26, 27 Oct. 1993)
Different figures were presented for the number of mosques demolished. Masyhuri Syahid mentioned that 180 of the 2217 mosques in Jakarta were threatened with demolition. The Jakarta Office of Religious Affairs reported that in the past three years at least 81 mosques had been demolished in the city. This number included 26 mosques razed in connection with the construction of a new city district in the Bandar Kemayoran area in Central Jakarta. In general, the mosques had to make way for business or office buildings.Some mosques were destroyed without problems, but in other cases this gave rise to conflicts. In the case of the Hidayatullah and Al-Hikmah mosques of Central Jakarta, brawls even broke out, causing some people to suffer injuries. At least two mosques could be saved from demolition after protests had been lodged, namely the mosques of Sarinah and Al-Abrar in Central Jakarta. Furthermore, a decree of the Governor of Jakarta protects 17 mosques as historical monuments.
Three main factors make the position of mosques in Jakarta critical. The first is that they are often located at strategic places, liable to be in demand for business and commercial interests. The second is that they are often built on waqf lands (land donated in usufruct for religious or social ends) and that two-thirds of the 6,447 waqf lands in Jakarta have not been officially registered yet and therefore are without an official certificate. The final factor is the existence of internal conflicts in the mosque management, as happened in the case of the Hidayatullah Mosque (on this last case, see INIS Newsletter Vol. X, p. 40 f.).Defending the policy of the local government, a deputy-governor of Jakarta, Museno, argued that the removal of mosques should not be viewed in a narrow way. All decisions in this field were taken in conformity with the city’s 1985-2005 general zoning plan. He explained that from the point of view of land use, the existence of mosques in business areas was ineffective because it would only turn them into monuments of the past, deprived of community of believers. The Chairman of the DMI, Drs. Kafrawi Ridwan, M.A., however, proposed that office buildings should be equipped with mosques for the employees and the inhabitants of the surrounding area. He also called on the Muslim com¬munity to understand city planning and to avoid the irrational sacrifice of mosques. (HT, 26 Oct.; RE, 3 Dec. 1993)
The Chairman of the MUI, K.H. Hasan Basri, emphasized that the demolition of mosques was more than a rational problem, it involved religious emotions and therefore should be handled carefully and in deliberation with the local communities. The daily Repu¬blika suggested the fundamental problem was that the existing urban zoning plan did not designate a special place to places of worship and only planned for industry, housing, or office areas. (RE, 3 Dec. 1993)
A solution to a concrete case was found on 10 December 1993, when the management of the Hidayatullah Mosque and the Danamon Land enterprise, which wanted to build a parking area for the Danamon Building on the site, signed an agreement to cancel the demolition or removal of the mosque. The agreement even stipulated that Danamon Land would offer assistance for the renovation of the mosque and donate a car to the mosque management. The peaceful agreement was signed after the intervention of the Commander of the Military Region of Jakarta, Maj. Gen. A.M. Hendroprijono, following a dispute which caused three staff members of the mosque to be injured by unidentified people. (RE, 11 Dec.; PE, 13 Dec.; KO, 15 Dec. 1993
On 11 December 1993, 22 ‘ulama and leaders of mosque organizations all over Jakarta held a symposium to discuss the recent demolition of mosques. They were worried not only about the demolition of mosques, but also about a number of pesantrens and Islamic cemeteries in strategic areas on which some businessmen had save their sights. One of the difficulties brought up was the naivety, lack of experience, and the general inactivity of the management of many mosques. They were unaware of the sorts of documents which a mosque should have in its possession. (PE, 13 Dec. 1994)
Meanwhile, Dr. A.M. Saefuddin, a legislator of the PPP, declared that the case of the demolition of 81 mosques in Jakarta without any provision for replacement should be brought to court. He issued his statement when receiving a delegation of the Forum Komunikasi Lembaga Dakwah Islamiyah Seluruh Jakarta (Communicative Forum for Institutes of Islamic Propagation all over Jakarta) led by Drs. H. Hussein Umar, which lodged a complaint about the demolition of mosques. The forum comprises 58 Islamic organizations in the city. Saefuddin claims that the first person to be prosecuted in court should be the governor, then the official who had issued demolition permission. (PE, 10 Dec. 1993)Previously, 100 ‘ulama’s of the Jakarta branch of the NU, in a meeting in Cisarua, Bogor, West Java, on 16 November 1993, stated their deep concern over the demolition of mosques, which they called “an effort to make an assault on mosques in the capital city”. A similar concern was also voiced by the Minister of Religious Affairs, Tarmizi Taher, in a hearing before the DPR on 30 November. The minister would instruct his officials to report any plans to demolish a house of worship in the near future, especially about the planned demolition of a mosque in Senen, Central Jakarta, and a church in Salatiga, Central Java. Many DPR members questioned the minister on cases of mosque demolition. They also declared that when a land dispute was brought to court, the court decision was usually in favour of the developers. (JP, PE, 1 Dec. 1994)
At the end of 1993 some hundred ‘ulama’ from the capital city, assembled at a meeting of ‘ulama’ and Haba’ib (sg. habib: descendant of the Prophet Mohammed through his grandson Husain b. ‘Ali b. Abi Talib) called on the government to avoid any demolition of mosques within the framework of development projects, especially mosques located on main roads or at strategic places. This demolition was in contradiction to the aim of national development, namely to produce Indonesian citizens who were rounded human beings and emphasized that sufficient prayer facilities should be available for travelling Muslims. On the other hand, they welcomed the cancellation of final plans to demolish the Hidayatullah Mosque in Central Jakarta. (PE, 29 Dec. 1993)
Source: INIS Newsletter Vol. XI 1995, pp 53-55