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03/01/2012 Indonesia (The Jakarta Globe) – When President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono addressed a gathering of the foreign ambassadors in Indonesia last month, he drew a flurry of criticism for brushing off the rising tide of interreligious conflicts as simply media hype.
He assured the ambassadors that on this particular issue, “things aren’t as bad as the mass media is reporting.”
Not so, say some of the leading figures in the national media scene, who argue that the president’s administration is unwilling to face up to a very real problem.
“His statement should be seen as a diplomatic one, an attempt to mask the reality,” Wahyu Muryadi, chief editor of Tempo magazine, said on Thursday. “Tempo’s own observations of what’s happening in Indonesia show an unsettling and increasing intensity in religious conflicts.”

Incidents of interreligious strife have in recent years grabbed much of the headlines in the national media and drawn the attention of rights groups abroad.
Last November, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom noted that there were “strong political forces, terrorist networks and extremist groups that continue to be serious obstacles to Indonesia’s democratic trajectory and a source of ongoing violations of religious freedom and related human rights” in the country.
The group cited several cases of concern, including the forced closure of a church in West Java, the suicide bombing of a church in Central Java, Baha’is detained on charges of proselytizing in East Java, sectarian tensions re-emerging in Ambon, and individuals who murdered defenseless Ahmadiyah Muslims being handed light sentences.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have also urged an end to the discrimination against the Ahmadiyah and the continued closure of the GKI Yasmin church in Bogor.

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