An Islamic group in West Sumatra province, Indonesia, has issued threats against Dominikus Supriyanto, the only Catholic to win a seat in the district legislature in recent general elections, warning him that he should convert to Islam if he wants to retain the seat.
On April 23, after results were announced, a group identifying itself as the Islamic Forum of West Pasaman attacked Supriyanto’s home, slinging stones and breaking several windows. Supriyanto, who was in the house at the time, said the attackers also shouted threats and demanded that he become a Muslim if he planned to stay in politics.
Supriyanto reported the incident to police and requested protection. After a brief investigation, police concluded that the attackers had most likely acted on behalf of unsuccessful election candidates.
Elections took place on April 9, but the election commission has only recently confirmed the names of those who will take up positions at district, provincial and national levels.
Supriyanto stood as a candidate for the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) in West Pasaman, West Sumatra, and won a seat in the district legislature from 2009 to 2014. The district is 98 percent Muslim, but Compass sources said voters supported Supriyanto because of his rapport with the Muslim community.
Supriyanto’s party supports pancasila, Indonesia’s national policy of tolerance for all religions.
Earlier this year, supporters of other candidates engaged in a so-called “black campaign,” warning that Supriyanto would likely “Christianize” West Pasaman if elected.
Despite such accusations prior to and following the elections, Supriyanto is determined to retain his seat.
“I was elected not just by Christians and Catholics, but by Muslims,” he told Compass. “I’m going to remain Catholic no matter what happens.”
Supriyanto has requested support from fellow party members in Jakarta.
The bishop of Padang diocese, Monsignor Martinus Situmorang, said Supriyanto had won the vote fairly and that if threats continued the diocese would take the issue to a national level.
Members of the Islamic Forum, meanwhile, have pledged to demonstrate publicly against Supriyanto during his inauguration in July.