Editorial: Fight for Tolerance Starts With Education
If the results of a recent survey measuring intolerance among Indonesians is accurate, the government and the country should be worried.
Conducted during the first week of October, and involving 1,200 respondents covering every province, the survey showed that 67.8 percent of people with a low-education background (senior high school or lower) were uncomfortable living in the same neighborhood as people with different religions.
Moreover, more than 32 percent of Indonesians are tolerant toward violence conducted in the name of religion. The two statistics point toward a dangerous trend in the country.
The hard truth is that intolerance against people with different social and religious backgrounds is growing along with the public’s tolerance toward violence. How did we allow this to develop and what does it mean for the future of this nation?
Growing religious intolerance is a consequence of two factors — weak law enforcement against perpetrators of violence against minorities, and the rise of radical and extremist Islam. With regional autonomy, many local governments turn a blind eye to the persecution of minorities either for money or votes.
This is unacceptable and must be stopped, or the future of this nation is at stake. The Constitution guarantees and is supposed to protect the freedom of worship in this country. But despite a Constitutional Court ruling, a Christian community in Bogor still can’t build a church or worship in peace. If the matter is a dispute over the land or another issue, the local authorities must uphold the law.
Religious tolerance is woven into Indonesia’s social fabric but we must not allow intolerance to take root within our communities. We must stand against those who preach hatred and persecute minorities. We must not yield even an inch to religious extremism lest it destroys us.