Editorial: Religious Tolerance Needs Legal Backing
The Islamic Defenders Front has been allowed to take the law into its own hands far too often. On the eve of Idul Adha, dozens of members of the group known as FPI attacked and destroyed a mosque run by Ahmadiyah devotees in Astana Anyar, Bandung.
Despite police intervention and efforts to diffuse the standoff, violence ensued. West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan said that the vandalism was unjustified and that complaints against the mosque should be resolved through legal channels. The governor added that those who carried out the attack should be brought to justice.
We could not agree more, but are pessimistic that it will happen. Reluctance by the police to arrest perpetrators of violence in the name of religion, and the lack of protection of the right for places of worship to operate, are key factors in the rise of religious intolerance in this country.
The country’s leaders, including President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, have spoken out against the rise of religious intolerance and have explained the need to uphold Pancasila, but their words have not been backed up by deeds among those tasked with upholding the law.
Poverty, in particular unemployment, has also been cited as a factor that has enabled some organizations to manipulate people, experts say.
According to data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), those whose highest level of education is senior high school have an unemployment rate of 10.3 percent, compared to the population-wide rate of 7.6 percent.
If the country is to be governed by democratic values, authorities must enforce the law fairly. Those who carry out violence, no matter what the motive, must be punished in accordance with the law. In addition, we must find ways for those who have only a secondary school education to find jobs.