The Hindu: by Pallavi Aiyar –
Atheists in Indonesia, who have gained little acceptance in a deeply religious society, often find themselves on the wrong side of the law
It’s late on a muggy Sunday afternoon in a dimly lit coffee shop in south Jakarta. Many among those sipping cappuccinos use pseudonyms. The talk is about “coming out” to their parents, the challenges of leading a double life, the fear of discrimination at work, and dealing with threats of violence.
In many countries, these are conversations typically associated with the gay community. But, sexual orientation has nothing to do with this particular group. The stigma they suffer comes from their beliefs, or rather, their lack of belief. For they are all members of Indonesian Atheists, a community of “unbelievers” in what is a deeply religious country.
Rising intolerance in Indonesia, a country that has a long tradition of syncretism, has been in the news in recent months. Earlier this year a Human Rights Watch report lambasted the Sunni Muslim-majority country for failing to protect minorities. But, the attention is usually focused on religious minorities, with atheists rarely getting a mention. Yet, these are precisely the people least protected by the Indonesian state.