‘Intolerance in Indonesia is becoming mainstream’
Indonesia has long been celebrated for its pluralism, but there are signs that this may be about to change
Source: Catholic Herald
Earlier this summer, I spent a month travelling around Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation and third-largest democracy. It is a nation with much to celebrate, particularly its remarkable transition from dictatorship to democracy, and its reputation for religious harmony and pluralism, symbolised by Jakarta’s Catholic church and the Istiqlal Mosque, which stand across the road from each other and sometimes share a car park. These achievements, however, are increasingly under threat.
During my travels through the world’s largest archipelago, I went to prison twice, to visit an atheist jailed for his beliefs and also a Shia Muslim cleric imprisoned for blasphemy. I met a Christian pastor who had previously been jailed because his church was unlicensed.
I visited Shia and Ahmadi Muslims living in displacement camps after they had fled their villages following brutal attacks. The Ahmadiyya community, whose motto is “Love for all, Hatred for none”, consider themselves Muslim, but are regarded as heretical by many others. I went to Ahmadi mosques which had been forcibly closed, in one instance sealed with 20 Ahmadis still inside,