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Indonesia: Religious intolerance is alive and kicking

Setara cited West Java, East Java, Aceh, Central Java, and South Sulawesi as the top five provinces where most religious discrimination occurred this year. West Java was the country’s least tolerant place.

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | Int’l Desk
Source/Credit: The Jakarta Post | Jakarta
By Margareth S. Aritonang | December 18 2012

Observing a growing intolerance in the country, a human rights watchdog announced on Monday that it had recorded increasing hostility against religious minorities, from 299 cases last year to 371 incidents this year.

To make matters worse, the Setara Institute said those attacks against minorities had claimed 10 lives nationwide, including two Shiites in Sampang, Madura, last August, and three others in Bireuen, Aceh.

“At a glance, intolerance this year does not seem to be as dramatic as last year, when we witnessed a vicious attack against the Ahmadiyah community. But more people have lost their lives due to the growing intolerance this year, including Aiyub Syahkubat and his follower Muntasir in Aceh,” Setara Institute researcher Ismail Hasani said on Monday.

Aiyub and his follower Muntasir were reportedly burnt alive by the mob who accused Aiyub of blasphemy. A man identified as Mansur was also killed during the attack.

Setara recorded that the National Police was the top human rights offender, showing that the police had been directly responsible for 40 of the total 371 incidents.

The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) also recently named the police as the top rights violators. According to the commission, police officers had committed 1,635 of the total 5,442 reported human rights violations.

Setara also cited local administrations nationwide as the worst violators of religious freedom.

“The lack of a firm national policy granting religious freedom has encouraged local administrations to act on their own agenda, as well as political interests, when dealing with religious conflict,” Setara deputy chairman Bonar Tigor Naipospos said.

Bonar wants the government to take immediate “serious and concrete” action to protect different religious followers, particularly as the country approaches legislative and presidential elections in two years.

“People will manipulate religious sentiments to win votes in areas of the country where religious issues are sensitive. Biased policies in favor of certain groups will exacerbate this, unless something is done about it,” he said.

Setara cited West Java, East Java, Aceh, Central Java, and South Sulawesi as the top five provinces where most religious discrimination occurred this year. West Java was the country’s least tolerant place.

According to Setara, violations have occurred at various education institutions with at least 10 incidents involving discrimination against students and lecturers over religious belief.

The study, for example, noted that students from the indigenous community of Samin in Central Java’s Kudus and Rembang regencies were forced to convert to Islam in order to participate in school programs.

Meanwhile, a university lecturer in Aceh, Mirza Alfath, was forced to give up his job for promoting reason over the faith in Islam on his Facebook page.

Concluding the study, Setara chairman Hendardi encouraged the government and House of Representatives to initiate a bill to eliminate religious discrimination, in addition to existing efforts.

“All eyes are on the President. He is the only one who can unite the nation,” he said.

Read original post here: Religious intolerance is alive and kicking

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