CSW - everyone free to believe


Indonesia: Visit report

8 Nov 2018

Radical Islamist extremism, the politicisation of religion, and identity politics are contributing to a continuing and severe rise in religious intolerance in Indonesia. Despite a long tradition of moderate Islam and religious pluralism, violations of freedom of religion or belief have become more frequent and serious over the past decade. Identity politics and the ‘instrumentalisation of religion’ are becoming more intense, according to the General Secretary of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI), Reverend Gomar Gultom. “The seed of radicalisation has spread throughout Indonesia,” he added. Alamsyah M Djafar, a researcher at the Wahid Foundation, agreed. Although many Indonesians still want a moderate, pluralistic society, he said, “If intolerance increases, the threat of radicalism increases, and that will change the face of Indonesia.”

CSW visited Indonesia for ten days in August 2018 and met civil society groups, human rights defenders and religious communities in Jakarta and Surabaya – including the Ahmadiyya mosque in Depok, a suburb of Jakarta, which has been forcibly closed (see p.6); and three churches in Surabaya which had been attacked by suicide bombers three months previously, on 13 May (see p.6). CSW met survivors of the attacks, and we were deeply impressed by their message of forgiveness. According to Father Aloysius Widyawan, a priest at Santa Maria Tak Bercela Catholic Church, the consistent message from all his parishioners was: “We must love others, we forgive the attackers, we do not want revenge.” The mother of two young boys, aged 8 and 12, who died from their injuries, said just two days after their deaths, “I have already forgiven the bombers.”

Read the Indonesia visit report in full.



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