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Jakarta Post

Jokowi '€˜not doing enough'€™ to promote religious pluralism

  • Fedina S. Sundaryani

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, January 15, 2015   /  10:08 am

Four months into his term, President Joko '€œJokowi'€ Widodo and his administration have still not made any serious attempts to stop persecution of religious minorities, according to an analyst, in spite of the President'€™s campaign promise to uphold the country'€™s founding principle Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity).

Ahmad Fuad Fanani of the Maarif Institute for Culture and Humanity said on Tuesday night that Jokowi had made next to no statements on religious intolerance since he took office in October.

'€œJokowi has become just another government official who promises one thing but doesn'€™t deliver, even though he was very outspoken during his campaign,'€ he said.

Religious freedom watchdog Setara Institute reported that there had been 135 cases of religious-based violence across the country in 2007, rising to 264 cases in 2012.

Members of the Ahmadiyah and Shia communities have been subjected to repeated attacks by Sunni Muslims who condemn the groups for their teachings.

Religious conflict was also evident during president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono'€™s tenure from 2004 to 2014, during which he received a statesmanship award from a US interfaith foundation in 2013.

Fuad said that Jokowi could silence his critics by passing new regulations criminalizing violent acts against minority groups and monitoring their implementation.

'€œJokowi and his administration must be firm against these violators and remind people that we are a pluralist nation, or else the trend will continue,'€ he said.

Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI) secretary-general Jerry Sumampouw acknowledged, however, that it might be too soon to say that Jokowi has failed to fulfil his campaign pledges.

He said that the government was at times caught between doing what the majority wanted and listening to the demands of the minority.

'€œOne example is the GKI [Indonesian Christian Church] Yasmin case in Bogor. PGI met with several members of the government to try to resolve the issue but they all told me nothing could be done,'€ he said.

Members of the Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) Yasmin in Bogor were denied for a fifth year the right to hold a Christmas service at their church, which was sealed by the city administration because of local pressure in 2010.

With regard to radicalism, Fuad said that the new government had not done enough to suppress growing fundamentalism in the country, the lapse contributing to the rising number of Islamic State (IS) movement supporters.

'€œThe Religious Affairs Ministry earlier said it would revoke the citizenship of anyone found traveling to Syria or Iraq to join IS, but in reality nothing has been done, even though we'€™ve caught several people who'€™ve confessed they were going to join IS,'€ he said.