National

Government blamed for groundswell
of religious hatred

The increasing religious intolerance across the nation is more than enough to show the government’s failure to defend freedom of religion, according to the Wahid Institute.

In its year-end report, the institute, which promotes pluralism and peaceful Islam, reveals that religious intolerance in the country has grown steadily in the last four years.

The report shows that religious intolerance cases in 2012 stood at 274, up from 267 in 2011. In 2010, the institute recorded 184 cases and 121 cases in 2009.

“The government has failed to guarantee the constitutional rights of its citizens. There is no significant progress in our religious tolerance,” Wahid Institute director Zannuba “Yenny” Wahid said on Friday.

West Java is the province with most cases, 57 cases this year.

Last year, the institute also placed the province at the top of the list.

West Java, the most populous province in Indonesia, is known for its deep roots of Islamic culture.

Over the years, major cases of religious intolerance have occurred there including the banning of church congregations from worshipping at the Yasmin Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) in Bogor and the Filadelfia Batak Christian Protestant Church (HKBP) in Bekasi.

For years, the congregations of the two churches have been denied by intolerant locals and officials at the local administrations to worship at their rightful places in their community although they have secured all legal permits, even from the Supreme Court, to build their churches.

However, intolerant locals and top executives at Bogor and Bekasi administrations refuse to bow to the Supreme Court’s ruling.

The central government also seems powerless to make the lower administrations obey the highest court’s decision.

“If the cases are not resolved immediately, then it is very likely that they will trigger similar cases in other areas in the country,” Yenny said, referring to a recent finding by her institute about opposition to the construction of a mosque in the predominantly Christian city of Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara.

Human rights activist Usman Hamid, meanwhile, stated that the government was the key to solve all of the intolerance cases.

“The government should not be afraid to enact all international laws that bind the country to guarantee practices of human rights,” he said, referring to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that guarantee religious freedom. (riz)

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