Religious Intolerance ‘Cannot Be Justified’: SBY

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Members of a Protestant congregation watch as local-government security personnel demolish the under-construction Taman Sari Batak Christian Protestant Church in Bekasi, on the outskirts of Jakarta. (AFP Photo/Adek Berry)

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono sought on Friday to defend Indonesia against accusations that the republic was descending into greater religious intolerance.

“It cannot be justified if an individual or a group forces its beliefs onto others,” the president said in an speech prior to Independence Day. “And certainly not with threats, intimidation or violence.”

The president called on the country’s rich diversity, emphasizing that discrimination on religious grounds was contrary to the interests of the country.

“I want to remind all Indonesian people that the state fully guarantees the existence of individual or minority groups,” he said. “We have to prevent violence that disturbs the social fabric and national unity.”

Human rights organization the Setara Institute recently criticized the government for a lack of grit in cases of religious intolerance, allowing the branches of discrimination to spread and vigilantism to take root.

National agencies were behind only 60 of the 160 responses to incidences of religious intolerance, while citizens instigated the remaining 100, the report said.

In March, the HKBP Taman Sari church in Bekasi district was demolished by Bekasi Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) following objections from a hard-line group, Taman Sari Islamic People’s Forum (FUIT). The church was still in the process of obtaining a building permit.

In the same month, Satpol PP sealed the Al Misbah Ahmadiyah mosque in Bekasi under the authority of the city’s mayor, Rachmat Effendi, citing a regulation by the West Java government and joint-ministerial decree on the embattled sect. The decree prohibits the Ahmadiyah from proselytizing, but does not preclude the minority religious group from conducting activities pursuant to their religion.

“Violent conflicts happened because of weak leadership and regulations,” Maruarar Sirait, an Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) lawmaker, said on Friday. “Data show there are problems with the Ahmadiyah, conflict between Sunni and Shiites in Madura, [embattled church] GKI Yasmin and others. Upholding tolerance should be implemented with real action in the field.”

  • jaytee

    you don’t you know is a NATO guy, no action talk only

  • Foreskin_Man

    I have never really grown used to the way people use the word ‘tolerance’, Can you implement tolerance? If you can, what does it imply to do so? With regards to religious minorities, the main concern of the authorities should be to implement the law. Then in addition they can promote tolerance.

  • antifreeze

    Justified ‘no’, but permitted to happen ‘yes’, apparently.

  • rahadi widodo

    talk is cheap…show me action…..i sent this to his twitter….

  • sheldon

    Talk less. Do more

  • Good,Bad and Ugly

    After the President said: “It cannot be justified if an individual or a group forces its beliefs onto others,” … “And certainly not with threats, intimidation or violence.”
    did he then fire the Ministers of Religion and Home Affairs for doing just these actions?

    • Roland

      This Minister of “Religious” (aka Sunni Islamic) Affairs is of course exempted from such justification….

  • MadWorld

    Indonesian want to remind you, Mr President that you are also payed by the non-sunni & non-muslim believers , to offer them a decent human rights as stated by the Pancasila.
    Please do remind yourself in front of the mirror: Probably I have a crap job, but hey, no experience needed, and the salary is good.

  • -Lauren-

    They say anything before an election don’t they!?! Of course SBY doesn’t want his presidential terms remembered for the steep spike in religious intolerance.

  • Good,Bad and Ugly

    As your Islamist wahabi/salafist miscreants dictate their demands over the President for continued intolerance and persecution of all beliefs not Sunni,
    for the destruction of human rights,
    destruction of freedom of thought, speech and action,
    Indonesia will see the same reaction as you are watching in Egypt.

  • dingus

    Can there be anybody who has anything other than contempt for this man.

  • Rustynails

    Ah the brave and noble face of Religion.

  • Roland

    Religious intolerance CANNOT be justified – yes Mr President – BUT now – how do YOU now justify all those comments (and actions) of your very own Minister of Religious Affairs who over the years he’s in office now more than just once showed in particular an extremely biased intolerance against any other state-sanctioned religion represented in Indonesia except his very own (and please don’t give me those photo-ops with some Buddhist leader AFTER the bombing of a temple). And there is as well as the MUI – a state-sponsored organization which hosts in its council also members of hard-line organizations as the Hizbut Tahir and, of course, the ever-present FPI – an organization BTW which had been under your leadership, Mr President, multiple times by high-ranking government officials invited to consult in particular religious matters, usually related to the very same religious intolerance which you now, in words only of course (and NEVER in action), condemn.

    Your words, sir are shallow as shallow can be, as the actions of your very own government are as intolerant as can be in an ever increasing manner, and you did so far, with the exception of words NOTHING to stop the ever-growing cancer of religious (as well as racial) intolerance. Can you still look into the mirror in the morning without blushing out of sheer shame?

  • As

    He also said: “Egypt should (or could) learn from Indonesia.” :D