Indonesia must acknowledge its religious minorities
Terrorist attacks against Christians (Press Release)
Following several terrorist attacks on churches in Indonesia, the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) demanded the largest Muslim state to acknowledge its religious minorities. “Anyone who aims to effectively protect the Christian population from further acts of violence will have to ensure that they are free to exercise their faith – just like the Ahmadiyyah, the Bahai’i, and the Hindus,” stated Ulrich Delius, the STP’s director, in Göttingen on Monday. “Indonesia will have to emphasize that it is a secular state in which the members of all religious communities are free to practice their faith without having to live in fear of being attacked.”
The human rights activist criticized that the country, which was once seen as an example of religious tolerance, is increasingly characterized by a radical Islam. “The security forces are trying to curb violence by radical Islamists – but the Islamization of public life continues, and the religious minorities have less and less freedom to act,” Delius stated, emphasizing that there have been arbitrary closures of churches and that Christians are subject to systematic harassment and exclusion when dealing with the country’s authorities.
According to Delius, the way the radical Islamists were able to discredit the former Governor Ahok, a Christian, clearly shows how much influence Islamists have in Indonesia already. In May 2017, Ahok had been sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for blasphemy, following a spectacular trial that had been initiated by radical Islamists. The sentence was recently confirmed by an appeals court.
“It is not enough to only increase the protective measures for Christian institutions,” Delius stated. “In order to keep the radical Islamists from gaining power in the upcoming parliamentary elections in Indonesia in 2019, there will have to be a comprehensive public debate on the role and the rights of the minorities.”
Header picture: Johnstad Di Maria via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0