Indonesia: Protect Religious Minorities

Target: Indonesian Government

Goal: Encourage the Indonesian government to devote more resources towards the protection of religious minorities

Over the last few years, countless violent and offensive acts have been issued towards religious minorities in Indonesia. The intolerance is getting worse largely because the government has refused to devote enough time and resources to securing the safety of these religious minorities, and eradicating the bigotry at its source. The Indonesian government must make this a priority immediately.

In a large-scale report, Human Rights Watch outlined how this violence is increasing in both occurrence and aggressiveness. In the study, the group pointed out that “Indonesian monitoring groups have noted a steady increase in such attacks, one group finding 264 violent incidents over the past year.”

The religious minorities taking the brunt of this brutality are the Ahmadiyahs, Christians, and Shia Muslims. Most of these attacks are coming from the hands of Islamic fanatics guided by the orthodoxy of Sunni Islamic practice. The violence ranges from personal attacks, to burning down houses of worship, or personal dwellings, of differing religious personnel.

Indonesian president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has not used any of his powers to shield these religious minorities from further persecution. At this point, little to no punishment has been dispersed among offenders. Most have gone unpunished, and consequently, left free to exhibit further prejudiced behavior.

Yudhoyono’s own government is not even free from discriminatory behavior. The Indonesian Minister of Religion, Suryadharma Ali, went without reprimand after declaring that Indonesians “…have to ban the Ahmadiyah. It is obvious that Ahmadiyah is against Islam.” He later asserted that all of the Shia members in Indonesia need to convert to Sunni.

The fact that these discriminatory sentiments are being proclaimed by a high-ranking Indonesian government official shows how institutionalized these prejudices are. If Yudhoyono hopes to foster a free democratic society, where his citizenry can all celebrate their own religious convictions without fear of violent confrontation, then he needs to act quickly and swiftly.

President Yudhoyono must make it known that religious intolerance will simply not be tolerated. This extends to members of his own government. Sign below to show support for the religious minority groups that are currently facing up against a bigoted, fanatical movement. Let Yudhoyono know that now is the time to cap the prejudice at its source, and devote resources towards the safety and security of his own citizens.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Yudhoyono,

The religious intolerance that has plagued your country over the last few years needs to be stopped. From the burning of places of worship, to violent attacks on innocent individuals, if you do not act now, your country may fall into an area of theocratic-based ruling that will lead to the degradation of the democracy that you desire.

On occasion, political leaders forget what their powers are for, or how they should use them; know this: you are where you are because your people wanted you there. They put you there, and in doing so, entrusted you with not only their lives, but the lives of their children.

This Sunni-led tirade cannot be permitted. If you hope to live up to the expectations of those who put you where you are, you need to stop it at its source. You cannot allow members of your own government to denounce certain religious sects, especially not if you hope to foster a free and open nation.

You’ve been granted this power for a reason. Don’t think that this power is somehow yours by right. It’s been given to you and with it you must aid those who gave you this power in the first place.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

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Photo Credit: Ahmadiyya Times

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