Pluralism endangered by government inertia: NGO report

CSW called on the Indonesian government to adopt effective policies to protect the human rights, religious freedom and life of minority communities.

March 03 2014, 3:12 PM
Pluralism endangered by government inertia: NGO report
Placards carried by demonstrators against religious pluralism in Indonesia.

Government inertia in controlling Islamic extremists is threatening religious pluralism in Indonesia, a recent report by the UK-based NGO Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has said.

The report said the government was guilty of “grave negligence and in many cases active complicity”, since it approved a series of discriminatory regulations and laws like, regulations issued in 2006 regarding places of worship and in 2008 against the Ahmad.

Both regulations violate religious freedom and the Constitution of Indonesia. Indonesia has as its national motto Unity in Diversity and as its guiding philosophy, Pancasila, the charter of five principles, promulgated in 1945 by then president Sukarno.

“Religious intolerance, formerly confined to specific regions, is now seen all over the country,” the report drafted by a team of experts – including lay Catholic Benedict Rogers and Father Benny Susetyo, director of the Dialogue Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia – said.

The CSW report identified five factors that contributed to the increase in religious intolerance: Spread of extremist ideology funded by outside sources (particularly, Saudi Arabia ) and encouraged inside the country; inaction and complicity on the part of local, provincial and national authorities; implementation of discriminatory laws and regulations; scarce or no application of law on the part of police and judiciary breeding impunity; little will on the part of the majority of Indonesian Muslims to speak out against intolerance.

The report criticised political parties of the government coalition, together with extremists groups such as the Islamic Defenders Front, of “poisoning Indonesia with the virus of intolerance”, in a climate of growing intimidation and violence. The report cited various instances to confirm the tendency and propaganda inciting religious hatred and hostility in the media and social network.

“A series of radical Islamic organizations emerged in society has acquired disproportionate influence on politics. Recrudescent Islamic activism is undermining the tradition of pluralism,” the report quoted NGOs and observers unanimously agreeing, “the situation is worsening”.

CSW called on the Indonesian government to adopt effective policies to protect the human rights, religious freedom and life of minority communities.

CSW reported threat for all religious minorities in Indonesia: Ahmad, Shiite and Sufi Muslims, Christians (Catholics and Protestants), Buddhists, Hindus, Confucians and followers of traditional religions.

Of the country’s population of 251 million, 86.1% are Muslims, 5.7% Protestant Christians, 3% Catholics, 1.8% Hindus. Other religions, including Buddhism and Confucianism, account for the remaining 3.4 %.

Source: Agenzia Fides

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