President's words are empty, say activists
Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, has an international reputation as a tolerant democracy. However in some areas the religious minorities, including Christians, face unending waves of discrimination and even violence. Only last month a bomb was detonated outside of a Christian home on the island of Sulawesi, while another one was found planted at the bus stop of a Christian village. Indonesia’s president will have to take concrete action if the countries Christians are going to ever experience true religious freedom.
By Ryan Dagur
11/26/2012 Indonesia (UCANews.com)- Rights activists say President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono needs to back his words with solid action after a speech at an international forum yesterday in which he called for society to respect religious differences and minority groups.
President Yudhoyono was speaking at the 4th World Peace Forum in Bogor, West Java, an event attended by 200 international delegates. he told the gathering that although the views of the religious majority must be accepted, “we must, however, not ignore the views of religious minority groups.
“Every party must promote a culture in which all differences should be addressed peacefully and must also prevent uncivilized actions such as violence [in dealing with differences],” he said.
"In democracy all parties must accept all differences. Rights and freedoms must not be used to harm religious values or symbols. For the sake of the nation, let us think of mutual interest.”
But rights activists challenged the president to act on what they say are merely hollow words.
“What he says doesn’t portray the reality. The legal process regarding cases involving religious violence doesn’t work well. Worse, it criminalizes those who are the victims,” Choirul Anam from the Human Rights Working Group told ucanews.com.
He cited a case involving people from the minority Shia Muslim community in East Java. Most people in Indonesia are Sunni Muslims.