Religion as a political game: rising intolerance in Indonesia


Indonesia’s rising religious intolerance stems from a political pact… The new president, Joko Widodo, must stop the violence before it’s too late. Bahasa Indonesia

Indonesia Muslims

Indonesia Muslims

In Indonesia, religious intolerance on the part of some Sunni Muslims is on the rise. The country’s population of 250 million people is approximately 87% Muslim, with Sunni Muslims making up about 99% of that population. Shia Muslims make up roughly 0.5% of all Indonesian Muslims, with Ahmadiyah at about 0.2%. Until a decade ago, there was very little religious tension between these groups, but today, elements within the Sunni majority are becoming increasingly antithetical to religious minorities.

First, the rising violence can be strongly linked to the actions of former Indonesian president, Bambang Yudhoyono, the retired general who ruled the country from 2004 until October 20, 2014.

In 2005, Yudhoyono initiated the country’s religious problems by declaring that the Indonesian Muslim Council (MUI), a conservative Sunni religious group, was the only authorized interpreter of Islam, and pledging his government’sopenness to their fatwas.

MUI wasted no time. They quickly declared Ahmadiyah a “misguided sect”, and ruled against “pluralism, liberalism, and secularism”. Ahmadi Muslims subscribe to the same six articles of faith as Sunni Muslims, with the primary difference being that Ahmadis believe that monotheistic prophethood is ongoing (Sunnis believe that Muhammed was the last prophet sent by God). With Ahmadis declared officially deviant, instances of hate speech and violence against Ahmadi Muslims rose quickly.Intolerance is being institutionalized at an alarming rate, human rights of religious minorities are under threat, and human rights organizations struggle to do their work with no way of enforcing protection.

Then, in 2008, the situation worsened when three ministers—Religious Affairs Minister Maftuh Basyuni, Home Minister Mardiyanto, and Attorney General Hendarman Supanji—issued a decree permitting criminal prosecution of Ahmadi Muslims for their beliefs and practices. In 2011 the governments of both East and West Java (the latter being Indonesia’s most populous province) used this decree to outright ban any Ahmadiyah activities. Today, 25 of the country’s regional authorities restrict religious sects, and most of those restrictions are aimed at Ahmadiyah, based on the decree.

For the first time in Indonesia’s history, moreover, Sunni militants are …read more @

Categories: Asia, Countries, Indonesia, Islam

3 replies

  1. The Ahamdis are only just experiencing what the Christian minorities have gone through for ages now. Sometime ago I raised this issue of intolerance in Indonesia and accused the then President of being behind it judging from his deplorable activities as a cabinet minister. That comment was shot down.
    The current article neglects the suffering of the Christian and Hindu minorities as if those groups are either better off or receive favors from the hate filled bigots in Indonesia.
    If the fight for religious rights must be meaningful, it has to be all embracing. This article does not show any concern about the plight of the others. What it means is that if the Ahmadis had been better treated, they would not have expressed any interest in the persecution of the Christians and Hindus.

  2. Good if you can write an article about suffering of all minorities in Indonesia and be constructive instead of focusing on what is not there in this article.

  3. Abdul Alim,
    “WHAT IS NOT THERE IN THIS ARTICLE” is indicative of the writer’s mind set. It was not a problem to talk about when others were the only ones being hit. He is protesting now that the chickens have come home to roost and the Ahmadis have joined the ranks of those at the receiving end.
    Ask anyone writing on the topic to take your advise into consideration.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.