A group of Muslim schoolchildren aged between five and twelve has been accused of desecrating graves at a Christian cemetery in Surakarta, central Java province, Indonesia.

The vandalism, carried out by an estimated ten to twelve children, included breaking crosses off twelve Christian graves.

Gibran Rakabuming Raka, the mayor of Surakarta and son of Indonesian
President Joko Widodo, has called for the children’s Islamic school to
be closed down due to fears of radicalisation.


Raka, who visited the cemetery after the attack, said, “We will close the school and dismiss its teachers because they are teaching intolerance to their students.”

The mayor, who added that the school does not have a permit from
local government and is therefore operating unlawfully, also urged
police to take action against both pupils and teachers, saying, “Their
actions were a gross act of intolerance.”

The school’s head teacher denied that teachers were responsible for
promoting intolerance or doing anything to encourage the vandalism.

Court overturns government ban on school’s Islamic dress mandate

Meanwhile, Christians have condemned an Indonesian Supreme Court ruling which upheld a state-run school’s policy that all female students must wear a hijab regardless of their religion.

A decree signed by three government ministers had initially
overturned the policy at the high school in Padang, West Sumatra
province, arguing that schools must not force pupils or teachers to wear
religious clothing.

The court, however, ruled on 7 May that the ministerial decree was unlawful.

Religious Affairs Minister Yaqut Cholil Qoumas responded that the
decree was necessary to counteract religious intolerance in schools,
adding that he would consult with colleagues about what steps to take

The Republic of Indonesia has no official religion, but is the
world’s largest Muslim-majority state. The country has seen a rise in
hard-line Islamic ideology in recent years. A generation ago, Muslims
and Christians lived peaceably as equals in accordance with the
state-promoted philosophy of Pancasila.

Church leaders, however, have praised the more moderate policies of President Joko Widodo, who in January 2021 appointed a Christian, Listyo Sigit Prabowo, as National Police Chief of Indonesia.

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This article originally appeared on Barnabas Fund/News