Governor of West Sumatra wants local-language Bible app to be removed because province “leans toward Islam”

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The Governor of West Sumatra, Irwan Prayitno, has made a formal request to the Ministry of Communications and Information for the removal of a local language Bible app from the Google Play Store, which he says is incompatible with the majority belief of the citizens of the province.

The request was reportedly sent to the ministry on May 28, as West Sumatra provincial government spokesman Zardi Syahrir confirmed yesterday.

“It’s not that we differentiate between religions. But that’s the culture. In West Sumatra, the culture is Islamic. On this basis, of course, we have to respect the order of culture because culture constitutes the personalities of the Minang people, ”he said, referring to the ethnic group originally from the province.

Bahasa Minangkabau is officially recognized as the local language of the province.

A copy of the official request circulated online, in which the governor wrote, “The people of Minang oppose and are troubled by the application.”

According to data from the National Statistics Agency (BPS), in 2019, West Sumatra had 5.48 million people. About 98 percent of the province’s population is Muslim, with a very small minority of Christians residing primarily in the Mentawai Islands.

That said, Indonesia’s constitution theoretically guarantees religious freedom to followers of six officially recognized religions, including Islam and Christianity. In practice, this guarantee does not always translate into equal rights for all believers.

In this case, this is perhaps evident from the failure of the Ministry of Communications and Information to categorically reject West Sumatra’s request.

“If it violates or is not compatible with the ideology, constitution and laws of the state, then an app, which can appear on digital platforms such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Instagram and others, can be deleted. »Communications and Information Minister Johnny G. Plate noted.

“To my knowledge, the Holy Bible is translated into many languages ​​such as Latin, English, Arabic, Indonesian, Chinese and more, whether in their lingua franca or in local languages. But the ministry will look into the matter first.

West Sumatra has used religion and culture to justify some ultra-conservative policies in recent years, including its plan to ban LGBT communities and behavior, which has yet to be mainstreamed into official local politics.

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