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ICC Note: Indonesia’s minister of religious affairs has recently attempted to repair the nations now heavily tarnished image as a tolerant Muslim society. Suryadharma Ali has for the most part remained shamefully non-chalant about the increase of attacks against religious minorities, including Shia Muslims and Christians, that have swept across the world’s largest Muslim majority nation in recent years. In his recent address at a press conference he pointed out that the number of registered places of worship is increasing, however he also made statements supporting the forced relocation of religious minorities when they “disturb” the sensibilities of their majority Muslim neighbors, saying “freedom has it’s limitations.”
7/22/2013 Indonesia (CSW) – Suryadharma Ali, Indonesia’s Religious Affairs Minister, has defended the country against criticisms from local and foreign institutions for being unresponsive to religious persecution. At a press conference, he said that Indonesia was a country that respects its pluralistic society and always embraced religious tolerance.
This remark comes ahead of an examination of the country’s human rights before the United Nation’s Human Rights Committee in Geneva— the first examination after Indonesian ratified the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights eight years ago.
Suryadharma said Indonesia has holidays for Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism, which are the six national religions the country recognises.
He lamented that media focus is only on the plight of displaced Ahmadiyah and Shia followers, and the church of the GKI Yasmin congregation sealed by the Bogor administration in West Java.
The GKI Yasmin Christians are still not allowed to worship in their building despite a 2010 Supreme Court ruling that their building permit was legal and ordering the Bogor administration to reopen the place of worship. Since 2012, they have been meeting for services in front of the State Palace once every two Sundays.
Suryadharma added that ministry data showed an increase of places of worship. Mosque numbers increased 64 percent between 1977 and 2004, Christian churches 131 percent, Catholic churches 152 percent, Hindu temples 475 percent and Buddhist temples 368 percent.
However, local and international human rights groups are reporting a deteriorating situation as well as acts of intolerance in Indonesia over the past few years.
A study by the Wahid Institute, whose aim is to promote pluralism and peaceful Islam, showed the number of cases of religious intolerance in 2012 stood at 274, up from 267 in 2011. The institute recorded 184 cases in 2010 and 121 cases in 2009.
Indonesia is seen to be persecuting religious minorities through its failure to enforce laws and issuing regulations that breach minorities’ rights. A recent example is that of the Sampang Shia community in Madura, East Java, who were evicted from a sports complex where they had sought refuge for the past year, after being forcefully displaced from their homes.

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