Too often I receive emails from moderate Muslims, suggesting that if I want to see and understand what is true Islam, I must go to Indonesia. As if the Arabs, who gave birth to Islam and understand the language of the Quran and other Islamic texts, understand Islam less than Indonesianss, who can't read and understand Islam's sacred scriptures. Also to Western leaders, Indonesia has emerged, more than Malaysia or Bangladesh, as the beacon of true Islamic democracy and religious tolerance. But reality is further from that. It's one of the most horrible place for minorities to live in. Now Human Rights Watch researcher Andreas Harsono is saying exactly that. And surprisingly, New York Times published this article.
No Model for Muslim Democracy
By ANDREAS HARSONO
New York Times | 21 May 2012
IT is fashionable these days for Western leaders to praise Indonesia as a model Muslim democracy. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has declared, "If you want to know whether Islam, democracy, modernity and women’s rights can coexist, go to Indonesia." And last month Britain’s prime minister, David Cameron, lauded Indonesia for showing that "religion and democracy need not be in conflict".
Tell that to Asia Lumbantoruan, a Christian elder whose congregation outside Jakarta has recently had two of its partially built churches burned down by Islamist militants. He was stabbed by these extremists while defending a third site from attack in September 2010.
This week in Geneva, the United Nations is reviewing Indonesia’s human rights record. It should call on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to crack down on extremists and protect minorities. While Indonesia has made great strides in consolidating a stable, democratic government after five decades of authoritarian rule, the country is by no means a bastion of tolerance. The rights of religious and ethnic minorities are routinely trampled. While Indonesia’s Constitution protects freedom of religion, regulations against blasphemy and proselytizing are routinely used to prosecute atheists, Bahais, Christians, Shiites, Sufis and members of the Ahmadiyya faith — a Muslim sect declared to be deviant in many Islamic countries. By 2010, Indonesia had over 150 religiously motivated regulations restricting minorities' rights.
Read rest of the article here.