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Religious Intolerance in Indonesia Getting Worse

07/05/2012 Indonesia (The Jakarta Globe) - The government needs to take back its statement boasting about Indonesia being a tolerant country after a recently released report suggests that cases of intolerance are on the rise, a prominent rights activist said on Wednesday.

“I’ve read the report and was not surprised by its content,” Human Rights Watch consultant Andreas Harsono said.

Andreas referred to a study that was released on Monday by religious freedom advocacy group the Setara Institute for Peace and Democracy.

Setara recorded 129 incidents of violence and 179 violations of religious freedom from January through June this year. The numbers are already more than half of last year’s total, which had 244 incidents and 299 violations.

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According to Setara, Christians have replaced the Islamic minority sect Ahmadiyah as the group whose religious freedoms has been violated the most. The advocacy group also cited the government — particularly local governments — as the worst offender and said most administrations were guilty of sealing off and prohibiting entry into places of worship.

Gomar Gultom, the secretary general of the Indonesian Council of Churches (PGI), said there was a growing frustration from Christians who were denied their rights to build a place of worship.

“The governments always said that they denied [minority groups] the right to build a place of worship because they didn’t want to offend the majority,” Gomar said. “Can’t they see that it shows how intolerant the people really are?

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