Listening to Indonesian politicians campaigning for this year’s elections you could be forgiven for thinking that freedom of religion is not a problem in the country with the world’s largest Muslim population and that all is well when it comes to interfaith relations.
You couldn’t be more wrong.
Just because freedom of religion rarely makes an election theme doesn’t mean that everything is all right. And don’t take the word of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono either, who in May received an award from the New York-based Appeal of Conscience Foundation for promoting “religious tolerance”.
Speak instead with the followers of Ahmadiyah, the Muslim Shias, various Christian denominations and other minority religious communities. They will tell you, mostly in private, of their fears along with stories of persecution and harassment, sometimes involving violence by hard-line Islamic groups, and often with the tacit approval of the government.