Religious intolerance, extremism in Indonesia worry rights group

LONDON — An alarming rise in extremism and intolerance has

prompted a London-based rights group to express “deep concern” over

religious freedom and violence after a two-week fact-finding visit to

Indonesia. The team from Christian Solidarity Worldwide met

representatives of Catholic and Protestant churches, interfaith groups

and Muslim civil society groups in June, reported the Asian church

news agency UCA News. Christian Solidarity Worldwide joined three

Indonesian groups — the Wahid Institute, the Setara Institute for

Democracy and Peace and the Human Rights Working Group — in welcoming

the establishment of a human rights dialogue between Indonesian

authorities and the European Union, which is scheduled to start June

29. The fact-finding mission heard from the Setara Institute that it

had recorded more than 200 violations of religious freedom in 2009.

Among the violations were at least 30 attacks on churches or church

property. The Jakarta Christian Communication Forum said it had

recorded at least 20 violations so far in 2010. In addition to

Christians, the London rights group found that the Muslim Ahmadiya

sect faced “serious violence and discrimination” throughout the

country, particularly since the government banned it from propagating

its beliefs in 2008. “We applaud Indonesia’s long tradition of

religious pluralism and freedom, but we are deeply concerned that

intolerance and extremism are gaining ground, said Stuart Windsor,

Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s national director.

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