Issue: Commentary: Is there room for atheists in Indonesia?
June 16, p2
Atheists in Indonesia will have to stay underground for now and probably for the foreseeable future.
Even with the rapid development of social media that allows those who don’t believe in the existence of God to get connected and discuss their beliefs more openly, there is no guarantee that they would be safe from the wrath of radical religious groups, or even from the long arm of the state if they come out of the closet.
A court in West Sumatra last week sent Alexander Aan, a 30-year-old civil servant and a self-confessed atheist, to two-and-half years in jail. He was not convicted under the country’s blasphemy law, although it was one of the two charges brought against him. (By Endy Bayuni)
Finally the Indonesian giant is waking up. It will take many more years before the giant is awake and then atheists and humanists will be recognized as people and judged based on how they treat other people, not on what they believe.
Your President has proved in Mexico that he is awake and joining the nations of this world, not only the Muslim world. I live in Australia, am not an Australian or Muslim, but I love Indonesia.
John Heerma van Voss
Islam gives freedom to all people to choose their own beliefs. In Aan’s case, which is unacceptable, he tried to promote his own beliefs to others, whereas the culture of most people in Minangkabau is based on Islamic culture.
Muslims in Indonesia are very tolerant of other religions. What about other countries that have doubt in Indonesia like Europe and the US, where the minority religious groups have their rights denied?
Sadly, Indonesia has a long, long way to go before it can hold its head up as a member of the free world. And even more unfortunately, it’s heading in the wrong direction.
Pancasila and our Constitution are universal enough to unify modern values of human rights. But you cannot escape the fact that the country is still dominated by very traditional mindset.
Atheism is a different issue in Indonesia. Until today, many Indonesians are still afraid of communism. It is a legacy of the Soeharto era. The teachings of deemed communism are similar to atheism. The majority of folks are not educated enough to see the difference; not even today, and they will remain so for some decades to come.
The key toward speeding up modernization is by providing better access to information.
Given the first of five principles of Pancasila, the state ideology inscribed in the Preamble to the Constitution, is “Belief in the One Supreme God”.
This in itself is very misleading. Buddhism and Confucianism have no God and Hinduism has many gods.
You get between three to six months in jail for killing three humans but two-and-a-half years for causing hurt feelings to some people? Something is not right here.
The question on the title of this article may have been valid 10 or 20 years back. It is no more. Amid the current weak government we find many untouchable hard-liners. Perhaps the more proper question at this moment is whether there is room for people with different beliefs to live in harmony in Indonesia.
In Kalimalang Bekasi, not so far from Jakarta, there is a Hindu temple built next to a church. The buildings have already there for more than 20 years without any problem. The difference is so beautiful.
Now a “group of people” have opened a karaoke parlor just across from the church and temple with a large loudspeaker directed to the two buildings and ready to rock out all prayers with naughty dangdut. That is Indonesia nowadays.
My heart goes out to Aan. It’s sad that the laws of this country are so suppressive. Religion should be open to criticism, and it’s completely asinine that someone can’t speak freely. I don’t understand why the religious people can’t just take it. Isn’t it obvious that no matter what I say, you still believe you will be going to heaven?
I’ll be much happier when this world is rid of the cancer of religion and belief in bronze-age mythical gods.