06/18/2020 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – In the latest report from the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim majority population in the world, its poor implementation of religious freedom and belief was highlighted.
Although the country guarantees religious freedom in its Constitution, in reality, religious minorities are often subject to discrimination and persecution by the society and the government. The report states that Indonesian citizens need to respect the rule of law to protect the rights of other citizens based on considerations of morality, religious values, security, public order, and democratic society.
One example mentioned in the report is the revocation of church building permits and forced termination of Protestant gatherings. In Indonesia, while the mosques are able to easily obtain building permit (IMB), churches have to jump through hoops in order to for their IMB to be approved. Often times their IMB can be revoked if the local community voices strong opposition against their church.
Members of the Yasmin Indonesian Christian Church (GKI Yasmin) in Bogor and Filadelfia HKBP in Bekasi have not been able to meet at their own churches for years due to an IMB dispute. Their cases confirm the IMB challenges faced by religious minority groups in the country.
The report also noted that local governments and police often surrender to the demands of Muslim mass groups – such as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), the Islamic Community Forum, Islamic Jihad Front, and the Indonesian Mujahidin Council – who constantly demand the closure of places of worship for violating permits or question the right to worship of minority religious groups.
Responding to the report on religious freedom in Indonesia, a member of Commission VIII of the House of Representatives from the National Awakening Party Faction Marwan Dasopang stressed that America was not relevant in assessing the implementation of religious freedom and worship in Indonesia. He added that there is no need to respond.
For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected].