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Jakarta Post

Jokowi-Kalla must manage religious diversity

  • Bambang Muryanto

    The Jakarta Post

Yogyakarta   /   Mon, October 20, 2014   /  05:26 pm

Experts say the new Indonesian government led by Joko '€œJokowi'€ Widodo and Jusuf Kalla must immediately improve the management of religious diversity in Indonesia, in line with principles of the 1945 Constitution.

'€œThree critical problems, namely the issue of houses of worship and religious blasphemy allegations, discriminatory impacts of definitions of a religion and discriminative regional bylaws, need to be immediately resolved,'€ said Mohammad Iqbal Ahnaf, coordinator of the public education division of the University of Gadjah Mada'€™s Center for Religious and Cross-Cultural Studies (CRCS-UGM), at a press conference on Monday.

The three main issues are stated in the center'€™s document on recommendations regarding religious diversity in Indonesia, which it will submit to the new Jokowi-Kalla administration.

'€œOf the three issues, the problem affecting Ahmadiyah refugees in West Nusa Tenggara and Sidoarjo, East Java, is the most urgent for us to resolve,'€ said Iqbal.

He said the government needed to show its political will to fulfill Ahmadiyah refugees'€™ basic rights that had been long neglected and to start reconciliations so that they could return to their hometowns without having to convert to other faiths.

'€œThe success of the new government in handling the problems of Ahmadiyah refugees will become a symbol of its success in tackling problems related to religious diversity in Indonesia,'€ Iqbal said, adding that the Jokowi-Kalla administration should also pay close attention to conflicts related to the construction of houses of worship and alleged religious blasphemy.

CRCS-UGM head Samsul Maarif said the new government should review the definition of a religion in terms of what had been conceptualized in Presidential Decree No. 1/PNPS/1965 on religious blasphemy misuse and prevention as well as Law No. 23/2006 on population administration.

He said the definition of so-called '€˜religion'€™ was not given naturally but was very sociological in nature.

'€œThe current definition of '€˜religion'€™ has led to discrimination toward traditional and local faith followers whereas based on our scientific study, theoretically, they can also be defined as a '€˜religion'€™,'€ said Samsul. (ebf)(++++)

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