Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Indonesia's Religious Tolerance Wanes While Dogmatic Bylaws Gain Ground

Indonesia's Religious Tolerance Wanes While Dogmatic Bylaws Gain Ground: Institute | The Jakarta Globe

The Wahid Institute, a Muslim organization that promotes tolerance, warned on Thursday that the worst was yet to come for religious freedom and tolerance if the country refused to take drastic measures.

“We have been recording the state of religious freedom and tolerance since 2008, and I have to say that 2011 was the worst,” said Rumadi Ahmad, program coordinator at the institute.

Aside from the increasing incidents of religious violence and intolerance — 276, up from 198 last year — the Wahid Institute also highlighted the steady growth of religious bylaws.

The institute reported that 36 regulations had been drafted or implemented that banned religious practices that were deemed as deviant from Islam, including the Ahmadiyah, required dress, respect toward holy days and obligation to pay alms.

In 2011, West Java and its districts issued 10 religious bylaws, more than any other region including Aceh, which partially adopts Shariah law.

West Java also ranked first in the number of religious violence and intolerance incidents with 160 recorded incidents this year, according to the institute.

“It is not as much as in 2004-2005 when we recorded that there were around 57 religious bylaws issued in that period. However, West Java was still the region with the most bylaws issued,” Rumadi said.

According to the program coordinator, the strong historical presence of Darul Islam and the Islamic Troops of Indonesia, which launched a widespread rebellion during the 1950s in a failed attempt to establish a Muslim theocracy, has made West Java a breeding ground for religious intolerance.