ASIA/INDONESIA - “Pluralism endangered” government inertia NGO report

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Jakarta (Agenzia Fides) – The historical and traditional religious pluralism which has always marked Indonesia is at risk due to inertia on the part of the government which leaves space for Islamic extremists: this warning emerges from a recent report issued by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) (head-office in the UK ), drafted by a team of experts including lay Catholic Benedict Rogers and Fr. Benny Susetyo, director of the Dialogue Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia.
According to the CSW report, (a copy was sent to Fides), the threat regards all religious minorities in Indonesia: Ahmad, Muslims Shiite and Sufi, Christians (Catholics and Protestants) Buddhists, Hindus, Confucians as well as followers of traditional religious. “Religious intolerance, formerly confined to specific regions, is now seen all over the country” the report says.
The statement sent to Fides identifies five factors which contribute to the increase in religious intolerance: the spread of extremist ideology, encouraged and funded by sources outside (particularly Saudi Arabia ) and inside the country; inaction and, at times, 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, breeds impunity; little will on the part of the majority of Indonesian Muslims to speak out against intolerance.
“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 text reads. The report criticises the political parties of the government coalition, together with extremists groups such as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), of “poisoning Indonesia with the virus of intolerance”, in a climate of growing intimidation and violence. The report cites various episodes to confirm the tendency and speaks of “propaganda inciting to religious hatred and hostility ” in the media and social network.
Everyone, NGOs and observers agree “the situation is worsening”. This is why CSW calls on the Indonesian government to “adopt effective policies to protect the human rights, religious freedom and life of minority communities”. The report says the country’s government is guilty not only of “ grave negligence but in many cases active complicity ”, since it approved a series of regulations and laws intrinsically discriminatory (in particular: regulations issued in 2006 regarding places of worship and another such paper in 2008 against the Ahmad). Both regulations violate religious freedom and indeed the Constitution of Indonesia.
With an estimated population of 251 million, Indonesia has as its national motto Unity in Diversity and as its guiding philosophy, Pancasila , the charter of five principles, promulgated in 1945 by the then president Sukarno. It is estimated that 86.1 % of the population is Muslim, 5.7% Protestant Christian, 3% Catholic, 1.8% Hindu and 3.4 % follow other religious including Buddhism and Confucianism. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 26/2/2014)