Giving hope to persecuted Christians since 1995
Select Page

ICC Note: Long respected by the international community as an example of a religiously tolerant, Muslim democracy, Indonesia has quickly been losing it’s reputation as radical groups gain greater influence. A new report released by Christian Solidarity Worldwide documents a precipitous decline in tolerance over the past several years, pointing out that all minority faiths are experiencing greater discrimination and violence. Indonesian Christians have seen a dramatic number of churches closed (ICC counted 50 forcibly closed churches in 2012) over the past few years by mobs of radical Muslims and local authorities. 
2/26/2014 Indonesia (WWM) – A new report paints a bleak picture of religious freedom in Indonesia.
Indonesia: Pluralism in Peril, which was launched at the UK Parliament yesterday (Feb. 25), says that in the world’s most populous Muslim nation (251 million, 86% Muslim), minority religious groups such as Christians are subject to “spiralling intolerance”, which threatens to destroy Indonesia’s erstwhile reputation as a place of inter-religious harmony.
The report, written by Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s East Asia team leader Benedict Rogers, says extremist ideology has spread nationwide; that local, provincial and national authorities have been guilty of inaction and complicity; and that the majority of Indonesia’s Muslims have failed to speak out against intolerance.
While stressing that he deeply admires all Indonesia’s achievements as a multi-faith society, Rogers says that as it approaches national elections this year, it is “crucial” that the new President, who in July will replace Susilo Bambang after a decade in office, steers the country back towards its roots as a pluralistic nation whose founding motto was “Unity in Diversity”.
The government’s stated ideology of ‘Pancasila’ has at its base communal peace and monotheism. Only six religions are officially recognised: Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Catholicism and Protestantism. But Rogers’ report notes that almost all of Indonesia’s minority religious communities have been affected by intolerance, including Catholic and Protestant Christians, Ahmadis, Shi’a and Sufi Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Confucians and Baha’is.
For examples of actions against Christians, Rogers notes the closing down of 17 churches in the space of three days in the Aceh region of northern Sumatra in May 2012; and the closure of two churches in West Java, despite court approval in Jan. 2011 saying they should be allowed to open.
The report states that a variety of radical Islamist organisations and political parties have emerged and gained “disproportionate influence” over policymaking. Rogers says that it is “clear” that ministers, including President Bambang, have not merely shown weak governance by yielding to their demands, but have been “proactively complicit”.
Perpetrators of violence against minorities are reported to have been allowed to act with impunity or to receive disproportionately small penalties, such as those sentenced to between four and five months in jail after being found guilty of destroying churches in Temanggung, Central Java.

[Full Story]