INDONESIA – Islamists protest against government efforts to maintain religious equality


Date:  October 27, 2017

Around 1,000 Islamists protested outside the Indonesian Parliament in Jakarta on Tuesday 24 October, as members of parliament approved a presidential decree banning organisations which go against the state doctrine of Pancasila.

Pancasila is a secular doctrine of religious tolerance and national unity, introduced when Indonesia became independent in 1949. Pancasila grants equal status to Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism and lists these six religions as acceptable for citizens to follow.

In July, President Joko Widodo ordered the disbanding of organisations deemed to be in conflict with Pancasila. Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamist group aiming to impose sharia across Indonesia, was the first ordered to disband for seeking to replace Pancasila and make Islam superior to other religions. Hizb ut-Tahrir had campaigned to bring blasphemy charges against the Christian former governor of Jakarta, who was jailed for two years in May.

Despite this week’s step from the government to uphold Indonesia’s history of religious equality, there is ongoing pressure to reduce the influence and visibility of the Christian minority.

Last week, Christians organising an open-air prayer meeting at a football stadium in Yogyakarta, 300 miles east of Jakarta, were forced to cancel the event, after a Muslim group wrote to the stadium threatening to disrupt the meeting. The Muslim group claimed that the meeting was an attempt to evangelise Muslims and “had the potential to become an arena of apostasy.”

However, the outdoor meeting was being held to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. (31 October 1517 is marked as the day when reformer Martin Luther is said to have nailed his 95 thesis on a church door in Wittenberg, Germany, triggering the Reformation).

From Reuters and UCA News

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