Editorial: Minority Groups Need Protection

By Jakarta Globe on 12:11 am Apr 25, 2014

Indonesia’s Constitution, the country’s highest legal authority, has clearly guaranteed the right of any citizen or group of people to live or exist here and practice their religion or beliefs as long as they don’t disrupt others. So there are no laws or regulations, let alone state officials or organizations, that can erase the right of people — majority or minority groups — to peacefully live their lives in Indonesia according to what they believe.

Based on this foundation, and if we still abide by the rule of law, then we, the Indonesian public, must support the fight of any minority group, including Shiites and Ahmadis, to live according to what they believe and their resistance to any outside force aiming to limit their basic rights anywhere in Indonesia.

We therefore should respect and support Shiites in Sampang, Madura, to claim back their land and their homes after years of living in exile because majority groups violently forced them to flee for their lives. The Shiites have arrived in Indonesia around the same time as the majority Sunni Muslims. And for centuries followers of both groups have lived peacefully here. There is no reason to try to wipe them out or force them to convert.

We also should support the firm stance of Ahmadis in Ciamis, West Java, who refuse to surrender against intimidation aimed at getting them to stop praying in their own mosque. Whatever authority the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) possesses, it has no right to ban any religious group from praying, as this would be a violaton of the Constitution.

We praise our fellow countrymen for standing up for their rights, and we demand the government protect them from any organization that does not hesitate to use violence to impose its will in the name of religion.

SOURCE: http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/opinion/editorial-minority-groups-need-protection/

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