Indonesia: Bishops question religious harmony survey - Ahmadiyya Media Library

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Saturday, 13 February 2016

Indonesia: Bishops question religious harmony survey

While government says all is well, prelates say more can be done

While the results of a national survey issued by the religious affairs ministry revealed adequate interreligious harmony for 2015, the Indonesian bishops' conference asserted that more efforts must be taken.

"Some areas have good interreligious harmony, indeed. But interreligious harmony remains bad in some other areas," Bishop Yohanes Harun Yuwono of Tanjungkarang, chairman of the bishops' Commission for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, told ucanews.com on Feb. 12.

He noted that were several cases of religious tensions in several parts of Indonesia.

In mid-July, local residents in South Jakarta blocked dozens of Ahmadiyya Muslims from holding Friday prayers in their small mosque following its closure by the local government.

"This shows that, in some areas, some groups still cannot accept other groups from different religious backgrounds. We have a big task in this case: how we should deal with such groups and how we should foster ties with them," Bishop Yuwono said.

Catholics must remain steadfast in promoting good relations among religions, he said.

"We must never give up. Creating interreligious harmony is a fight which should be done continually," Bishop Yuwono added.

Muharram Marzuki, head of the religious affairs ministry's religious life research center, said the results of the survey revealed that religious harmony across Indonesia scored at 75 percent. Aceh province had the lowest score, at 62.8.

A ministry statement said the survey assessed perceptions of tolerance, equality and cooperation among people of different religions. The ministry acknowledged that problems still persist, referring directly to how some Christian communities face difficulty in building new churches, and to a case last year in mostly Christian Papua province, where a mosque was burnt down by a mob.

Bonar Tigor Naipospos, deputy chairman of the Jakarta-based Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, said that while the survey results were good, "religious minorities still face discrimination," noting recent cases of harassment against the Ahmadiyya and Shia communities.

Data from the institute notes that there were 197 cases of violations of religious freedom in 2015, up from 134 cases in 2014.

Meanwhile, Yendra Budiana, spokesman of the Indonesian Ahmadiyya Congregation, criticized the government for failing to protect Ahmadis.

"Basically, we love peace. … But why discriminations cannot be stopped?" he asked.


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