Religious liberty is the proverbial canary in the mine,” according to Doug Bandouw, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Canaries are often used by miners as an early-warning signal for poisonous gases. When the small birds stop singing and suffocate, miners know toxic gases have polluted the area and something is wrong.
The right of religious freedom for small groups within a country is a vital indicator of the health of society. Religious freedom is the most basic freedom. Without it, it is doubtful that the lives and dignity of its citizens is truly respected.
Religious minorities in Indonesia have recently been systematically and aggressively silenced. Repression is allegedly perpetrated by religious extremists. The state is not without blame either.
The state partakes in the oppression of its own citizens, first through oversight and omission, and second by undertaking discriminatory actions and policies. The Blasphemy Law and a joint ministerial regulation on the Ahmadiyah minority Islamic sect are proof.
Two cases illustrate the dire condition of religious freedom in Indonesia.
First is the plight of the Ahmadis. The Ahmadis were part of our archipelago’s society even before independence and partook in the independence movement. The sect has now been cast aside and discriminated against.