FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 28, 2011
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today called the verdict in a February mob attack in Indonesia targeting Ahmadiyah Muslims “troubling and disappointing.”
An Indonesian court sentenced the leader of the attack in Banten Province to 5 1/2 months in prison. Eleven others were convicted of lesser charges. Indonesian human rights groups called the sentence far too lenient and a blow to tolerance and religious freedom in Indonesia.
“This is a very troubling and disappointing verdict, and shows that Indonesia continues to struggle with extremism and intolerance in its midst,” said Leonard Leo, USCIRF Chair. “The fact that extremist groups can use violence and intimidation with only limited consequences has created a culture of insecurity for religious minorities in Indonesia. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is finally saying the right things about societal violence and the need to prosecute those who undertake or incite violence, but as this verdict shows, there remains a distinct gap between rhetoric and practice.”
In its 2011 Annual Report, USCIRF praised the government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for taking positive steps to address terrorism and past sectarian violence, end a civil war in Aceh, and curtail terrorist networks, but noted that religious freedom has come under increasing strain in recent years. Religious minorities have experienced patterns of intimidation, discrimination, and societal violence often perpetuated by groups espousing intolerance and extremism under the banner of Islamic orthodoxy