Friday, March 8, 2013

Jakarta Condones Religious Violence

While the Indonesian government publishes claims of the country’s religious freedom and protection from persecution, religious minorities are being increasingly targeted by intolerant majority groups.  Local police groups stand by without intervening while militant groups of the Islamic Defenders Front torch, intimidate, threaten, and harass communities and homes of minority groups including Christian protestants, Shia Muslims, and Ahmadiyahs.  The Setara Insitutue, the local group dedicated to documenting and keeping track of cultural and religious equilibria, reported that religious minorities suffered 264 attacks in 2012, 54 more than in 2010.  In cases of physical violence, perpetrators of aggression are given much lesser sentences than minorities defending themselves.  Government and judicial investigations are only weakly supported as police groups are unorganized and outnumbered.
Although the Indonesian government appears to be stable and just, the reality of the situation is that it is not effective in promoting the ideas and directives it preaches.  The government says it protects all people and does not allow racial, cultural, or religious persecution, and police efforts are present to enforce the cultural peace, but the government and government officials are greatly outnumbered by much stronger and more aggressive militant groups that are unafraid to challenge the government to continue their persecution missions.  The minority groups are told they will be protected by the officials, and the outside communities assume that Indonesia is relatively stable because of the official declarations, but the reality is that the majority groups have stronger influence than the government and use their power to pursue their own goals in intimidating the minority groups.  

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