Jakarta Post

Please Update your browser

Your browser is out of date, and may not be compatible with our website. A list of the most popular web browsers can be found below.
Just click on the icons to get to the download page.

Jakarta Post
press enter to search

The Jakarta Post
Video Weather icon 30°C
DKI Jakarta, Indonesia
30°C Partly Cloudy

Dry and mostly cloudy throughout the day.

  • Wed

    26℃ - 32℃

  • Thu

    25℃ - 32℃

  • Fri

    25℃ - 31℃

  • Sat

    26℃ - 30℃

Obama visit hoped to encourage pluralism

  • Abdul Khalik

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Mon, March 15 2010 | 09:47 am

As thousands of followers of the conservative Islamic group Hizbut Tahrir, held demonstrations Sunday against the planned visit of the US President Barack Obama, human rights activists said they hoped he would foster greater respect for pluralism.

From continued violence against Ahmadiyah followers to the burning of churches across the country, scholars and activists admit there are many pitfalls in Indonesia’s embrace of religious and cultural difference.

“Discrimination and violence against minorities still exists. And such intolerance occurs both within and among religious groups,” said Hendardi, the executive director of the Setara Institute.

Hendardi said that although Obama’s visit could be used by some officials to justify the progress of the country’s condition in terms of democracy, human rights and pluralism, he and other activists would voice the real condition of the country to urge the US to help solve problems resulting from intolerance.

He said the election of a black American as the US president, which was previously unimaginable, could inspire Indonesians.

“Obama’s story itself is a living example of how we can fight intolerance and discrimination.

“We don’t believe the US should be silent about human rights violations in the country just because it has economic interests in Indonesia.”  

The veteran activist said that Obama and his Democratic Party, which is known for its attention to issues such as human rights and democracy, could help solve problems such as the current plight of the Ahmadiyah.

The Ahmadiyah are deemed as heretics by mainstream Muslims for recognizing Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the sect, as a prophet.

Islamic teaching says that Muhammad is the final prophet.

For years, Ahmadis have suffered attacks from various hard-line Muslim groups, including the fire-bombing of their mosques and homes.

Recently, a number of human rights activists filed a judicial review of the 1965 Blasphemy Law with the Constitutional Court, arguing the law had been abused to justify attacks on minority groups.

Yunianti Chuzzifah,  the chairwoman of the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan), said that her organization had received several reports from women who faced discrimination because they were followers of religious sects and traditional beliefs not officially recognized by the government.

“Female members of some faiths and beliefs that aren’t recognized by the state can’t obtain an ID card unless they list one of the official religions [on the ID], which is done against their will.”


Join the discussions