The public generally respected religious freedom; however, extremist groups used violence and intimidation to force eight small, unlicensed churches and one Ahmadiyya mosque to close. In addition several churches and Ahmadiyya places of worship that were forcibly shut in previous years by mobs remained closed. Some Government officials and mass Muslim organizations continued to reject the Ahmadiyya interpretation of Islam resulting in discrimination against its followers. Many perpetrators of past abuse against religious minorities were not brought to justice. Also, instances of extremists attacking and attempting to terrorize members of other religions occurred in certain provinces during the reporting period.
The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom issues with the Government as part of its overall policy to promote human rights. The Embassy promoted religious freedom and tolerance through exchanges and civil society development.
SECTION I. RELIGIOUS DEMOGRAPHY
An archipelago of more than 17,000 islands, the country has an area of 700,000 million square miles and a population of 245 million.
According to the 2000 census report, 88.2 percent of the population described themselves as Muslim, 5.9 percent Protestant, 3.1 percent Roman Catholic, 1.8 percent Hindu, 0.8 percent Buddhist, and 0.2 percent "other," including traditional indigenous religions, other Christian groups, and Jewish. Some Christians, Hindus, and members of other minority religious groups argued that the census undercounted non-Muslims. The Government does not recognize atheism.
Most Muslims in the country are Sunni. The Shi'a estimate that there are between one and three million Shi'a. The majority of the mainstream Muslim community follows two orientations: modernists, who closely adhere to scriptural orthodox theology while embracing modern learning and concepts; and traditionalists, who often follow charismatic religious scholars and organize around Islamic boarding schools. The leading modernist social organization, Muhammadiyah, claimed 30 million followers, while the largest traditionalist social organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, claimed 40 million.
Smaller Islamic organizations range from the Liberal Islam Network, which promotes an individual interpretation of doctrine, to groups such as Hizb ut-Tahrir Indonesia, which advocates a pan-Islamic caliphate, and the Indonesian Mujahidin Council, which advocates implementation of Shari'a as a precursor to an Islamic state. A small minority of people subscribe to the Ahmadiyya interpretation of Islam and there are 242 Ahmadiyya branches. Other messianic Islamic groups exist, including Darul Arqam, Jamaah Salamulla (Salamulla Congregation), and the Indonesian Islamic Propagation Institute.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs estimates that 19 million Protestants (referred to as Christians in the country) and 8 million Catholics live in the country. The province of East Nusa Tenggara has the highest proportion of Catholics at 55 percent. Meanwhile, the province of Papua contains the highest proportion of Protestants at 58 percent.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs estimates that 10 million Hindus also live in the country. Hindus account for almost 90 percent of the population in Bali. Hindu minorities (called "Keharingan") reside in Central and East Kalimantan, the city of Medan (North Sumatra), South and Central Sulawesi, and Lombok (West Nusa Tenggara). Hindu groups such as Hare Krishna and followers of the Indian spiritual leader Sai Baba also present, although in smaller numbers. Some indigenous religious groups, including the "Naurus" on Seram Island in Maluku Province, incorporate Hindu and animist beliefs into their practices. Many have also adopted some Protestant principles. The Tamil community in Medan represents another important concentration of Hindus.
The country has a small Sikh population, between 10,000 and 15,000. Sikhs reside primarily in Medan and Jakarta. Eight Sikh temples (gurdwaras) are located in North Sumatra while Jakarta has two Sikh temples with active congregations.
Among Buddhists, approximately 60 percent follow the Mahayana school, Theravada followers account for 30 percent, and the remaining 10 percent belong to the Tantrayana, Tridharma, Kasogatan, Nichiren, and Maitreya schools. According to the Young Generation of Indonesian Buddhists, most adherents live in Java, Bali, Lampung, West Kalimantan, and the Riau islands, ethnic Chinese make up an estimated 60 percent of Buddhists.
The number of Confucians remains unclear because at the time of the 2000 national census respondents were not allowed to identify themselves as such. Their number may have increased after the Government lifted restrictions in 2000, such as the right to celebrate publicly the Chinese New Year. The Supreme Council for Confucian Religion in Indonesia (MATAKIN) estimated that ethnic Chinese made up 95 percent of Confucians with the balance mostly indigenous Javanese. Many Confucians also practiced Buddhism and Christianity. MATAKIN urged the Government to include Confucianism as a category in the next census.
An estimated 20 million people in Java, Kalimantan, and Papua practice animism and other types of traditional belief systems termed "Aliran Kepercayaan." Some animists combine their beliefs with one of the Government-recognized religions.
There are small Jewish communities in Jakarta and Surabaya. The Baha'i community reported thousands of members, but there were no reliable figures available.
Falun Dafa representatives claim the group, which considers itself a spiritual organization instead of a religion, has between 2,000 and 3,000 followers, nearly half of whom live in Yogyakarta, Bali, and Medan.
No data exists on the religious affiliations of foreign nationals and immigrants.
Approximately 191 foreign missionaries, primarily Christian, operate in the country. Many work in Papua, Kalimantan, and other areas with large numbers of animists.
SECTION II. STATUS OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
The Constitution provides for the freedom of religion, and the Government generally respected this right in practice. The Constitution accords "all persons the right to worship according to their own religion or belief "and states that "the nation is based upon belief in one supreme God." The first tenet of the country's national ideology, Pancasila, declares belief in one God. However, some restrictions exist on certain types of religious activity and on unrecognized religions. Government employees must swear allegiance to the nation and to the Pancasila ideology. The Government sometimes tolerated extremist groups that used violence and intimidation against religious groups, and often failed to punish perpetrators. The Government did not use its authority to review or revoke local laws that violated freedom of religion.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs extends official status to six faiths: Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and, as of January 2006, Confucianism. Atheism is not recognized. Religious organizations other than the six recognized religions can register with the Ministry for Culture and Tourism only as social organizations, restricting certain religious activities. Unregistered religious groups do not have the right to establish a house of worship and have administrative difficulties obtaining identity cards and registering marriages and births.
The Government requires officially recognized religious groups to comply with Ministry of Religious Affairs and other ministerial directives, such as the Revised Joint Ministerial Decree on the Construction of Houses of Worship (2006), Overseas Aid to Religious Institutions in Indonesia (1978), and the Guidelines for the Propagation of Religion (1978).
On December 9, 2006, the House of Representatives passed a new civil registration bill requiring citizens to identify themselves on Government ID cards as belonging to one of the six religions recognized by the Government. The bill legalized what in the past had been a nationwide administrative practice. The bill does not allow for the registration of other religions on ID cards.
The 2006 Revised Joint Ministerial Decree on the Construction of Houses of Worship, issued on March 21, 2006, requires religious groups that want to build a house of worship to obtain the signatures of at least 90 members and 60 persons of other religious groups in the community stating that they support the establishment, as well as approval from the local religious affairs office. Some religious groups complained that the revised decree made it too difficult to establish a house of worship, while others argued that the increased clarity of the revised decree would improve the situation by diminishing conflicting interpretations of the 1969 decree that it superseded.
The Guidelines for Overseas Aid to Religious Institutions requires domestic religious organizations to obtain approval from the Ministry of Religion to receive funding from overseas donors. The Guidelines for Propagation of Religion ban proselytizing under most circumstances.
The Child Protection Act of 2002 makes attempting to convert minors to a religion other than their own through "tricks" and/or "lies" a crime punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
Article 156 of the criminal code makes spreading hatred, heresy, and blasphemy punishable by up to 5 years in prison. Although the law applies to all officially recognized religions, it is usually applicable in cases involving blasphemy and heresy against Islam.
The question of implementing Shari'a generated controversy and concern during the reporting period. Aceh remained the only province in which the central Government specifically authorized Shari'a. Presidential Decree 11/2003 formally established Shari'a courts in Aceh. However, several local governments across the country promulgated Shari'a-inspired ordinances.
According to the Indonesian Women's Coalition, at least 46 Shari'a-based local laws have been issued by local governments throughout the country. These include laws requiring women to wear headscarves in public; mandating elected officials, students, civil servants, and individuals seeking marriage licenses to be able to read the Qur'an in Arabic; and prohibiting the drinking of alcohol and gambling. During the reporting period, the Government did not exercise its jurisdiction over religious matters in order to review or invalidate these controversial local laws that appear to contravene the Constitution.
For example, according to a senior provincial official, 18 out of 22 South Sulawesi regencies adopted aspects of Shari'a law. These range from the implementation of Islamic dress codes for women in public to prohibitions on alcohol and gambling. Buhikumba Regency in South Sulawesi has four local laws implementing elements of Shari'a for all Muslims. Bulukumba and Bone Regencies have implemented specific requirements that local village heads, candidates for political office, secondary school students, and people seeking marriage licenses be able to read the Qur'an in Arabic. In Padang, West Sumatra, the mayor instructed all Muslim women to wear a headscarf and local authorities enforced this requirement. The regulations did not apply to non-Muslims. Several regencies have passed regulations preventing women from receiving Government services if they are not wearing headscarves. Several other places have local laws similar to those in Bulukumba Regency.
Regulations in the Madura Regency of Pamekasan call for Muslim attire to be worn by Muslim civil servants and the cessation of both public and work activities during the call to prayer.
Tangerang in Banten Province continues to ban public displays of affection, alcohol, and prostitution. These bans apply to both Muslims and non-Muslims. The controversial antiprostitution clause vaguely defines a prostitute as anyone drawing suspicion based on his or her attitude, behavior, or dress and places the burden on suspected women to prove their innocence. Advocacy groups challenged the constitutionality of Tangerang's regulation, but in March 2007 the Supreme Court upheld the prohibition.
In October 2005 the regional representative office of the Ministry of Religious Affairs in West Nusa Tenggara issued a ban on 13 religious groups, including Ahmadiyya, Jehovah's Witness, Hare Krishna, and 9 forms of traditional beliefs (Aliran Kepercayaan) as being deviations of Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism. The ban is still valid.
During the reporting period, a special committee of Parliament continued to review a revised version of a highly controversial draft pornography bill. This bill was originally introduced in 2004 as the Antipornography and Pornographic Action bill and outlawed displaying "sensual body parts," kissing in public, and any writings, art, recordings, or broadcasts with sexually explicit content, all of which were broadly defined. The draft bill sparked a heated national debate and led to large demonstrations both for and against. Opponents of the bill had characterized it as an attempt by proponents of Shari'a law to implement Shari'a indirectly. In February 2006 Indonesian lawmakers reportedly revised the draft to take into account cultural traditions and local sensitivities and changed the bill's name to the Pornography Bill.
The 1974 Marriage Law makes polygamy illegal for civil servants, except in limited circumstances. Marriage law for Muslims draws from Shari'a and allows a man to have up to four wives, provided that he is able to provide equally for each. For a man to take a second, third, or fourth wife, he must obtain court permission and the consent of the first wife; however, conditions are not always met in practice. Many women reportedly found it difficult to refuse, and Islamic women's groups remain divided over whether the system needed revision.
Divorce remained a legal option available to members of all religions, but Muslims seeking divorce generally had to turn to the Islam-based family court system, while non-Muslims obtained a divorce through the national court system. In divorce cases, women often bear a heavier evidentiary burden than men, especially in the Islam-based system. The law requires the former husband to provide alimony or its equivalent, but no enforcement mechanism exists, and divorced women rarely receive such support.
In December 2006 a prominent Muslim preacher, Aa Gymnastiar, announced that he had married a second wife. Gymnastiar's second marriage became a national issue when, in the aftermath of the news, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono summoned the Minister of Women's Empowerment and officials from the Ministry of Religious Affairs to discuss the controversy over polygamous marriage. The Ministry of Women's Empowerment since announced that the Government was considering extending its ban on polygamy to cover all officials working for the state, including legislators and soldiers. The proposal received enthusiastic backing from progressive Muslims and many women, but met with strong opposition from religious conservatives who argued that polygamy was permitted in Islam and therefore should not be banned by secular law.
The Government permits the practice of the traditional belief system of Aliran Kepercayaan as a cultural manifestation, not a religion. Followers of Aliran Kepercayaan must register with the Ministry of Education's Department of Education. Local authorities generally respect these adherents' right to practice.
On June 28, 2007, the Government issued Regulation No. 37/2007 which refers to the Civil Administration and Marriage Laws. The new regulation allows Aliran Kepercayaan officiants to preside over marriage ceremonies and directs civil registration offices to register marriage licenses signed by such marriage officiants, enabling these marriages to be legally recognized. Implementing regulations or other technical guidance, however, had not been issued by the end of the reporting period.
The national Government did not formally ban the activities of the minority Muslim Ahmadiyya sect, but some local governments did. Despite the central Government's jurisdiction over religious affairs, the administration continued to refrain from taking a clear position on the local bans against the Ahmadiyya.
Some Muslim, Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist holy days are national holidays. Recognized Muslim holy days include the Ascension of the Prophet, Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, the Muslim New Year, and the Birth of the Prophet Muhammad. National Christian holy days include Christmas, Good Friday, and the Ascension of Christ. Three other national holidays are the Hindu holiday Nyepi, the Buddhist holiday Waisak, and Chinese New Year, celebrated by Confucians and other Chinese. In Bali, all Hindu holy days are regional holidays, and public servants and others do not work on Saraswati Day, Galungan, and Kuningan.
As in previous years, during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, many local governments ordered either the closure or a reduction in operating hours of various entertainment establishments. In 2006 a Jakarta decree once again ordered the month-long closure of nonhotel bars, discos, nightclubs, sauna spas, massage parlors, and venues for live music. Billiard parlors, karaoke bars, hotel bars, and discos were allowed to operate for up to 4 hours per night. Some members of minority faiths, as well as some Muslims, believed these orders infringed on their rights.
Based on Law 17/1999, the Government has a monopoly on the organization of the Hajj to Mecca. The law states that the Ministry of Religious Affairs is responsible for providing guidance, service, and protection to citizen Hajj pilgrims during their pilgrimage. The Ministry also determines the costs associated with the Hajj and issues the Hajj passport.
In 2003 the Government passed the National Education Law. By the end of the reporting period the President had not signed the law's draft regulation on religious instruction and religious education. This regulation would mandate religious instruction in any one of the six official religions when requested by a student. Previous laws required all students to take religious instruction in one of five religions, Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, and Hinduism.
The Government bans proselytizing, arguing that such activity, especially in areas heavily dominated by members of another religion, could prove disruptive. In 1979 the Ministries of Religion and Home Affairs issued a joint decree prohibiting conversion efforts.
The Government formed the Council of Indonesian Ulama (MUI) in 1975 and continues to fund and appoint its members. The MUI is not formally a Government body. Nevertheless, its edicts or fatwas (religious decrees) are designed to be moral guiding principles for Muslims. Although MUI opinions are not legally binding, society and the Government seriously consider them when making decisions or drafting legislation. In 2005 the national MUI issued 11 fatwas, including 1 that banned the Ahmadiyya. The fatwas were influential in official and social discrimination against the Ahmadiyya and other minority religious groups during the reporting period.
During the reporting period, several Government officials and prominent political leaders interacted in public forums and seminars with religious leaders and interfaith groups such as the Indonesian Anti-Discrimination Movement and National People's Solidarity (Solidaritas Nusa Bangsa).
The law does not discriminate against any religious group in employment, housing, or health care.
Restrictions on Religious Freedom
Government policy and practice contributed to the generally free practice of religion. However, certain policies, laws, and official actions restricted religious freedom, and the Government sometimes tolerated discrimination against and abuse of individuals based on their religious belief by private actors. There were no reports of religious prisoners or detainees in the country.
The Government requires all adult citizens to carry a National Identity Card (KTP) which, among other things, identifies the holder's religion. Members of religions not recognized by the Government are generally unable to obtain KTPs unless they incorrectly identify themselves as belonging to a recognized religion. During the reporting period, human rights groups continued to receive sporadic reports of local Civil Registry officials who rejected applications submitted by members of unrecognized or minority religions. Others accepted applications, but issued KTPs that inaccurately reflected the applicants' religion. Some animists received KTPs that listed their religion as Islam. Many Sikhs registered as Hindu on their KTPs and marriage certificates because the Government did not officially recognize their religion. Some citizens without a KTP had difficulty finding work. Several nongovernmental organizations and religious advocacy groups continued to urge the Government to delete the religion category from KTPs.
The civil registration system restricts the religious freedom of persons who do not belong to the six recognized faiths; animists, Baha'is, and members of other small minority faiths found it difficult to register marriages or births, notwithstanding the June 2007 regulation pertaining to marriage and civil administration. In practice, couples prevented from registering their marriage or the birth of a child in accordance with their faiths converted to one of the recognized faiths or misrepresented themselves as belonging to one of the six. Those who chose not to register their marriages or births risked future difficulties: a child without a birth certificate cannot enroll in school and may not qualify for scholarships. Individuals without birth certificates do not qualify for Government jobs.
Men and women of different religions continued to face obstacles to marrying and officially registering their marriages. Such couples had difficulty finding a religious official willing to perform an interfaith marriage ceremony; a religious ceremony is required before a marriage can be registered. As a result, some persons converted in order to marry. Others traveled overseas, where they wed and then registered the marriage at an Indonesian Embassy. Despite being among the officially recognized faiths, Hindus stated that they frequently had to travel long distances to have their marriages registered, because in many rural areas the local government could not or would not perform the registration.
Religious groups and social organizations must obtain permits to hold religious concerts or other public events. The Government usually granted permits in an unbiased manner unless a concern existed that the activity could anger members of another religious group in the area.
Religious speeches may be given if delivered to members of the same religion and not intended to convert persons of other faiths. Televised religious programming remained unrestricted, and viewers could watch religious programs offered by any of the recognized faiths.
No restrictions exist on the publication of religious materials or the use of religious symbols; however, the Government bans dissemination of these materials to persons of other faiths.
The armed forces provide religious facilities and programs, including services and prayer meetings, at all major housing complexes for servicemembers who practice one of the officially recognized religions. Although every military housing complex must provide a mosque, a Catholic church, a Protestant church, and worship centers or temples for Buddhists and Hindus, smaller compounds rarely offer facilities for all six religions.
Since the Government promulgated the Revised Joint Ministerial Decree on the Construction of Houses of Worship in March 2006, a revision of the 1969 decree, implementation and defense of rights conferred under the decree have not always been enforced at the local level. During the reporting period, some Christian and Hindu groups pointed to sporadic acts of discrimination in which local authorities refused to authorize the building of churches and temples even though the groups managed to collect the necessary signatures. For example, the Hindu Association reported their continuing inability to build a temple near Jakarta despite obtaining the required signatures.
In Aceh efforts to educate the public about and enforce Shari'a continued. During Ramadan, shopkeepers closed their businesses for midday prayers and restaurants remained closed all day. Aceh Province maintained hundreds of Shari'a police to enforce the law. They worked jointly with the civil police to investigate and prosecute violations. At times the Shari'a police detained persons for "public education" if caught wearing improper Islamic dress or dating without an escort, but police generally did not arrest or charge them with crimes. The city of Banda Aceh no longer operated a "Mosque Brigade" to ensure appropriate Muslim dress. On August 17, 2006, 15 Shari'a and 10 regular police officers raided the U.N. World Food Programme compound in Banda Aceh. The reason for the raid was variously reported as being either drug or alcohol related.
Foreign religious organizations must obtain permission from the Ministry of Religious Affairs to provide any type of assistance (in-kind, personnel, or financial) to religious groups.
Foreign missionaries must obtain religious worker visas. Some Christian groups state that Christian missionaries find it difficult to obtain or extend visas. Requirements for religious worker visas are more onerous than for other visa categories. They require not only approval from each office of the Department of Religion from the local to national level, but also information on the number of followers of the religion in the community and a statement confirming that the applicant would work no more than 2 years in the country before being replaced by a local citizen. Foreign missionaries who were granted such visas worked relatively unimpeded. Many missionaries with a primary focus on development work successfully registered for social visas with the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Education.
Abuses of Religious Freedom
During the reporting period there were reports of abuse of religious freedom across the country.
During the reporting period, as in past periods, the Government continued to explicitly and implicitly restrict the religious freedom of groups associated with forms of Islam viewed as outside the mainstream. Also during the reporting period, the Government arrested and charged individuals with heresy, blasphemy, and insulting Islam.
In May 2007, the Lebak District, West Java, Department of Religion reportedly encouraged the Muslim sect "Islam Sejati" to return to the fold of orthodox Islam. A few days later, on May 15, 2007, the Banten, West Java, chapter of the MUI issued a fatwa declaring the group deviant because members only prayed three times a day and did not face Mecca when they prayed.
During the reporting period, 187 members of the Ahmadiyya continued to live at a refugee camp in Mataram, Lombok. They have been living in the camp since attacks by local Muslims in February and March 2006 destroyed their homes and mosques. Representatives of Ahmadiyya in Lombok raised security concerns on July 24, 2006, with representatives of the Australian Consulate in Bali. They requested asylum from persecution by local Muslims. In May 2007, the West Nusa Tenggara Deputy Governor stated that the Ahmadiyya are permitted by law to seek asylum in another country.
Violence and actions against the Ahmadiyya community increased after the MUI issued a July 2005 fatwa that condemned the Ahmadiyya as a heretical sect. In 2005 a number of policies, laws, and official actions restricted the religious freedom of the Ahmadiyya community in other areas. Despite a heavy police presence during two attacks on an Ahmadiyya congregation in West Java in July 2005, police made no arrests. A local ban was subsequently passed against the Ahmadiyya in West Java, and they were prevented from using their religious complex. As of the end of the reporting period, no action had been taken against the perpetrators of the incidents. The Government continued to tolerate discrimination and abuse toward the Ahmadiyya by remaining silent on the 2005 MUI fatwa, the Ahmadiyya's legal status, and local bans.
Dozens of people in Pasuruan, East Java, raided two houses belonging to M. Thoyib and Rochamim on April 9, 2007, accusing them of practicing, animism. Both men had previously practiced Islam, but had allegedly embraced animism and conducted animistic prayer ceremonies at cemeteries. Neighbors denounced them as heretics. Local police detained and questioned the two men about their religious activities. They were not arrested or charged; however, the two chose to stay in police custody for their own safety for 2 weeks before returning home.
In April 2007, Malang police arrested eight persons accused of disseminating a "prayer training" video produced by the College Student Service Organization in Batu, East Java. The video allegedly depicts 30 Christians being instructed by their leader to put Qur'ans on the floor at a December 2006 gathering. Following the initial arrests, an additional 33 persons were detained under blasphemy charges in connection with the videos. Christian church leaders denied allegations that Christians were involved in the production or distribution of the videos. At the end of the reporting period, the 41 persons detained were still awaiting trial.
On June 28, 2006, the Polewali, South Sulawesi state court sentenced Sumardi Tappaya, a Muslim high school religious teacher, to 6 months in prison for heresy after a relative accused him of whistling during prayers. The local MUI declared the whistling deviant. The teacher served his sentence.
On June 29, 2006, the Central Jakarta District Court sentenced Lia Eden, leader of the Jamaah Alamulla Group, to 2 years in prison for denigrating a religion. The MUI issued an edict in 1997 declaring Jamaah Alamulla deviant.
The press reported that in May 2006 the Banyuwangi, East Java regional legislature voted to oust Banyuwangi's Regent, Ratna Ani Lestari, from office. Those in favor of the ouster accused Ratna, a Muslim by birth, of blaspheming Islam by practicing a different religion from the one stated on her identity card. Ratna's supporters stated that she was the target of a religiously motivated smear campaign because of her marriage to a Hindu. Ratna remained in place because the courts ruled there was no quorum present when the legislature's vote was taken. The regional legislature appealed to the Supreme Court, which had yet to rule as of the end of the reporting period.
On April 12, 2006, police in Banyuwangi, East Java, arrested five Falun Dafa activists, two of them foreigners, for distributing circulars to local residents. Police later claimed they arrested the five because the circulars contained information about the Chinese Communist party and not because the activists were Falun Dafa members; distribution of Communist literature remains illegal. The five Falun Dafa activists were subsequently released and no charges were filed.
During 2006 the Aceh Government caned at least 25 persons for consuming alcohol, 59 people for gambling, and 32 people for being alone with persons of the opposite sex who were not blood relatives.
The Indonesian Christian Communication Forum claimed that eight small, unlicensed churches in West Java were shut down during the reporting period by Muslim extremist groups despite a 2-year grace period contained in the revised regulation for houses of worship to obtain permits per the new requirements. In 2006 militant groups forcibly closed two churches without police intervention. Another 20 churches closed in 2006 under pressure from militant groups after the promulgation of the revised decree remain closed, according to the Forum. While often present, police rarely acted to prevent forced church closings and sometimes assisted militant groups in the closure. In early June 2006 the central Government announced its intentions to crack down on vigilantism by militant religious groups against places of worship as well as other targets. At the end of the reporting period, there were no specific reports of action.
In November 2005 local police arrested a foreigner and a citizen who were associated with a Christian working on a humanitarian dam building project on the island of Madura. Police acted after local religious leaders alleged that the two engaged in proselytizing. The allegations appeared to be sparked by jealousy on the part of leaders that their communities had not received similar projects. Prosecutors charged the citizen, who continued to publicly profess a nontraditional version of Islam, with denigrating a religion, and the court sentenced him to 2 1/2 in prison. The foreigner was convicted of immigration violations, sentenced to 5 1/2 months, and deported.
In October 2005 police in Central Sulawesi raided their neighborhood Madi sect after locals from other villages complained that sect followers were not fasting or performing ritual prayers during Ramadan. Three policemen and two sect members died in the clash. Sect members reportedly held two police officers hostage but later released them. Five Madi members were tried by local courts for causing the deaths of the police personnel; in January 2006 they were convicted and sentenced to between 9 and 12 years in prison.
In September 2005 an East Java court sentenced each of six drug and cancer treatment counselors at an East Java treatment center to 5 years in prison and an additional 3 years in prison for violating key precepts of Islam by using paranormal healing methods. A local MUI edict characterized their center's methods as heretical. Police arrested the counselors while they tried to defend themselves from hundreds of persons who raided the center's headquarters. The center was shut down and the six counselors began serving their sentences during the reporting period.
In August 2005 East Java's Malang District Court sentenced Muhammad Yusman Roy to 2 years' imprisonment for reciting Muslim prayers in Indonesian, which MUI declared tarnished the purity of Arabic-based Islam. Roy was released from prison on November 9, 2006, after serving 18 months of his sentence.
In June 2005 police criminally charged a lecturer at the Muhammadiyah University in Palu for heresy. They held him for 5 days before placing him under house arrest after 2,000 persons protested against his opinion article, entitled "Islam, A Failed Religion." The article, among other things, highlighted the spread of corruption in the country. The lecturer was released from house arrest and subsequently fired by the University.
In September 2005 a court sentenced three women from the Christian Church of Camp David to 3 years' imprisonment under the Child Protection Law for allegedly attempting to convert Muslim children to Christianity. The women claimed that family members gave permission for their children to attend Christian youth programs. The Supreme Court rejected the women's appeal in 2006. They served 2 years of their sentences and were released on parole on June 11, 2007.
Local Shari'a-influenced anti-prostitution ordinances exist throughout the country. This included Tangerang, West Java, where the city council passed a vaguely worded by-law on November 21, 2005, prohibiting anyone suspected of being a prostitute, based on his or her attitude or behavior, from being in public places. In 2006 Tangerang arrested and tried dozens of women as prostitutes, including a pregnant mother of two who was accused of being a prostitute because she purportedly had make-up in her purse. In April 2006 three of the women tried in Tangerang filed a request for judicial review of the by-law with the Supreme Court, but the court ruled on March 1, 2007 that the law was valid and not in conflict with higher laws.
Forced Religious Conversion
There were no reports of forced religious conversion, including of minor U.S. citizens abducted or illegally removed from the United States, or of the refusal to allow such citizens to return to the United States.
Sabili, a widely read Islamic magazine, continued to publish articles with anti-Semitic statements and themes. It suggested the existence of conspiratorial "Zionist" activities in the country. A CD produced in September 2005 by the commercial entity Trustco Multimedia contained political material on the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), which holds 8 percent of the country's parliamentary seats, as well as an anti-Semitic game entitled "Shoot the Jews." PKS subsequently asked Trustco Multimedia to pull the CD from consumer shelves, and there were no further reports of the CD appearing in retail establishments.
Abuses by Terrorist Organizations
During the reporting period, the Government successfully tried and convicted 27 suspects of terrorism and arrested at least 47 other suspected terrorists who are expected to face trial in the future. The trials of 17 suspected terrorists were underway during the reporting period, while at least another 27 suspected terrorists are in detention awaiting trial. These numbers include suspects affiliated with Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and Poso residents, both Christian and Muslim, involved in violence against members of other religious groups.
On March 21, 2007, Hasanuddin, one of the JI leaders behind the November 2005 beheadings of three Christian schoolgirls in Poso, was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment by a Jakarta Court for his role in the beheadings. Central Sulawesi police arrested Hasanuddin in a May 2006 raid. His arrest highlighted the role of local militant groups and the JI terrorist network in the violent attacks that had plagued the province.
In a January 2007 police raid on suspected terrorists, Muslim extremist Dedi Pasaran was shot dead while Abdul Muis was apprehended. The two men assassinated a respected Christian leader and secretary of the Central Sulawesi Protestant Church, Rev Irianto Kongkoli, on October 22, 2006, in Palu, Central Sulawesi.
In September 2006 the Denpasar District Court sentenced Mohammad Cholily and Anief Solchanudin to 18 and 15 years' imprisonment respectively and Dwi Widianto and Abdul Aziz to 8 years' imprisonment for planning and implementing the October 1, 2005 Bali bombing. Three suicide bombers from JI killed 22 persons and injured more than 100 in the tourist areas of Kuta and Jimbaran in Bali during the attack.
The Government successfully prosecuted 6 persons for the September 2004 suicide attack on the Australian Embassy that killed 10 persons and injured more than 100. In September 2005 the South Jakarta District Court sentenced Rois and Ahmad Hasan to death, Saipul Bahri to 10 years' imprisonment, and the 3 other participants to between 3 and 7 years' imprisonment. In December 2005 the Jakarta High Court upheld the death penalty for Rois and Ahmad Hasan. In January 2006 Rois and Hasan filed an appeal with the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court upheld Hasan's sentence in May 2006, but had not decided on Rois's appeal as of the end of the reporting period.
Improvements and Positive Developments in Respect for Religious Freedom
In a February 2006 public speech, the President reassured citizens of Chinese descent that their rights were legally and constitutionally guaranteed and asked civil registrar offices across the country to register the marriages of Confucians as required by law. The President's speech, delivered on Chinese New Years day, facilitated Confucians' ability to obtain identity cards that reflected their religious affiliation and register Confucian marriages and births. Representatives of the Chinese community affirmed their ability to practice the Confucian religion in a relatively free fashion during the reporting period.
There were notable efforts in several provinces to build interfaith harmony. The Government of North Sumatra continued to sponsor an organization, FORKALA, which united representatives of all recognized religious groups and promoted interfaith dialogue as a way of avoiding religious conflict.
During the reporting period, religiously motivated violence declined significantly in Maluku and North Malukus. Religiously motivated violence was at its height in the late 1990s. and had continued at a lesser, yet disturbing scale in subsequent years. As in past years, however, Central Sulawesi experienced sporadic bombings, shootings, and other violence despite efforts to restore security and promote reconciliation. Government officials worked with Muslim and Christian community leaders to defuse tensions in both areas.
Maluku remained calm and leaders of both the Muslim and Christian communities and the Maluku provincial government demonstrated their strong commitment to ease religious tension and rebuild. Numerous construction projects to replace damaged churches, mosques, and homes began during the reporting period. The Maluku Department of Social Affairs sponsored a program in September 2006 called "Friendship Bridge," attended by 250 people from all over Maluku who had previously been involved in the religious conflict. Muslims and Christians spent a day together in Letuwaru, a Christian village, and then the next day in Amahai, a Muslim village. Maluku local leaders and representatives of the Muslim and Christian communities joined together in November 2006 in Ambon to discuss ways to further improve the reconciliation process.
During the reporting period, local Muslim and Christian leaders quickly denounced continued attempts to destabilize Maluku. The Chairman of the Maluku Ulama Council and Head of the Maluku Synod condemned two incidents that took place in March 2007.: On March 3, a low-grade homemade explosive was detonated at the gate of the Ambon port injuring 16 people, and on March 5, police defused a similar device at the Ambon Plaza shopping mall. Police have interviewed at least five people in connection with the attacks, but the perpetrators and their motive remains unclear. There have been no arrests. Religious leaders demonstrated strong interfaith cooperation and desire to maintain peace in the region through their rapid and unified denunciation of the incidents.
The situation in Poso remained tense, but police continued to crack down on and arrest several suspects accused of terrorism and other violent crimes related to interreligious strife in Central Sulawesi. Local police in Central Sulawesi continued to protect local churches and prayer houses during religious services. These actions instilled guarded optimism in local residents that the cycle of violence has slowed.
During the first half of 2007 national police in Java captured 17 suspected JI terrorists for planning operations and caching weapons and explosives, some of which they sent to support continued violence in areas like Poso. Police discovered operational plans and confiscated hundreds of kilograms of explosives and detonators, dozens of assault rifles, and thousands of rounds of ammunition. The June 2007 arrest of key JI operational leader Abu Dujana further confirmed the group's violent intentions.
In late 2006 and early 2007, police arrested dozens of suspects in Poso for involvement in a series of sectarian attacks since 2001. By February 2007, police stated that they had arrested 18 of 29 "most wanted" men who they suspected of involvement in the Central Sulawesi violence. According to the national police spokesperson, most of the 18 arrested belonged to the local JI-linked Tanah Runtuh Musim militant group, which has been accused of many of the most gruesome crimes against Christians since 2001.
On October 29, 2006, Vice President Jusuf Kalla held a meeting with 30 Christian and Muslim leaders in Palu, Central Sulawesi. The vice president asked both religious communities to forgive each other and assured residents that security personnel deployed in Poso would be able to resolve the conflict.
SECTION III. SOCIETAL ABUSES AND DISCRIMINATION
During the reporting period, there were reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious belief or practice.
According to the Indonesian Christian Communication Forum, militant groups forced the closing of eight small, unlicensed churches during the reporting period. The Islamic Defenders Group (FPI), the Anti-Apostate Movement Alliance (AGAP), and the Anti-Apostate Division (DAP) of the Indonesian Islamic Ulama Forum, backed by some local Muslim communities, orchestrated many of the church closings. AGAP and FPI stated that they targeted churches that operated without the permission of the local government and the surrounding community as required by the 2006 Revised Joint Ministerial Decree on the Construction of Houses of Worship, despite the 2-year grace period to legally register. Many of the targeted churches operated in private homes and storefronts.
On June 4, 2007, a militant group stormed and vandalized a small Protestant church in a housing complex in Soreang, Bandung Regency, West Java, demanding that it be closed. The attackers claimed to be from the AGAP, but both AGAP and DAP denied responsibility. In a related incident 10 days later, more than 100 people demonstrated to demand the closure of churches housed in private homes in Soreang.
On April 4, 2007, dozens of members of the DAP visited the Pasundan Christian Church in Bandung, West Java, to inquire about a recent incident in which the church allegedly broke its agreement not to convert Muslims to Christianity. A member of DAP, stated that the church signed an agreement in 2005 with the antiapostasy group AGAP not to try to convert Muslims. However, the member alleged that the church had violated its agreement by converting some Muslims in the Garut and Pagauban areas of Bandung by giving them money. Church leaders denied the allegation. Police facilitated an inconclusive meeting on April 10, 2007, between AGAP and church leaders to peacefully discuss the issue.
On September 24, 2006, an estimated 50 people from the DAP attacked and tried to destroy Yayasan Penginjilan Roti Kehidupan Church south of Bandung, West Java, ostensibly because the noise level of prayer meetings disturbed the local community. The attackers started to demolish the roof, stopping only when police intervened. The church is no longer functioning.
In September 2006, close to Ramadan, vigilante Muslim groups carried out "sweeps" of small bars and brothels across the country. On September 8, 2006, hundreds of young men raided roadside stalls in Bogor, West Java, looking for alcoholic drinks to destroy. On September 8, 2006, in Semarang, Central Java, police raided a number of roadside stalls selling alcohol drinks. On September 13, 2006, Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso implored mass organizations to not take the law into their own hands, stating that the operation of places of entertainment during Ramadan was dealt with by the law and this was a police responsibility.
Several houses of worship, religious schools, and homes of Muslim sects regarded as unorthodox were attacked, vandalized, forced to shut down, or prevented from being established by militant groups and mobs throughout the country, as the following examples illustrate.
On June 19, 2007, dozens of people from the FPI and other hardline groups demonstrated at the Mahmud Mosque in Singaparna, Tasikmalaya, West Java, demanding that the Ahmadiyah be dissolved. During the protest, the crowd damaged the mosque. The demonstration was allegedly in response to a regional meeting held by the Ahmadiyah community on April 22, 2007. Ahmadiyah leaders claimed to have received police permission to meet. Police quickly secured the mosque and contained the demonstration. Following the incident, Ahmadiyah leaders met with local Muslim leaders, and discussions between Ahmadiyah and Muslim youth groups yielded a public discussion entitled, "The Country Must Protect Ahmadiyah Members." On June 26, 2007, however, the same group of demonstrators demanded that the Tasikmalaya Regional Parliament dissolve the Ahmadiyah. The Parliament rejected the demand, stating that religious affairs are the jurisdiction of the Central Government.
On April 9, 2007, police prevented hundreds of people from attacking an Islamic boarding school, owned by Tajul Ali Murtadho, using knives and machetes in Sampang, East Java. Local residents accused Murtadho of teaching a nontraditional version of Islam. Murthado was briefly detained by the police and released. Police temporarily closed the school, but it reopened after the situation was controlled.
On April 8, 2007, in Jember, East Java, an angry crowd surrounded a house belonging to Suwarno, the local chairman of Ikatan Ahlul Bait Indonesia (Ijabi), a Shi'a religious organization. They demanded Ijabi not spread Shi'a teachings. Local police removed three Ijabi leaders including Suwarno in an effort to pacify the crowd and calm the situation; the crowd dispersed. The Ijabi leaders were questioned by police and released the same day.
On March 27, 2007, Alih bin Hadi, a Muslim cleric in Bogor, West Java, was seized from a mosque by a mob of approximately 200 persons and beaten to death. Alih had preached that Muslims could travel to a nearby mosque, rather than to Mecca, for a pilgrimage. He also preached that it was permissible for Muslims to pay alms (zakat) after the Idul Fitri holiday. Alih's teachings had long angered local people. In December 2005, he signed an agreement to stop the mosque's activities and leave the area, but later returned and renewed his preaching activities. Alih had belonged to a larger group called Karisma Usada Mustika Foundation (Yaskum), which was being investigated by the Bogor branch of the MUI for heresy during the reporting period. Approximately 1,000 members of Yaskum demonstrated outside the main Bogor police station to protest Alih's killing. At the end of the reporting period, three men suspected of orchestrating Alih's killing had been detained by the police.
On December 24, 2006, at the urging of local clerics, 500 angry villagers in Jambesari village, Bondowoso Regency, East Java attacked 150 Ijabi members conducting routine prayers, destroying three houses, a small mosque and a car belonging to the local Ijabi chairman. Local Sunni residents objected to the presence of the Shi'a in their community and accused them of deviant Islamic beliefs and heresy. Local police removed and questioned 17 Ijabi members for 8 hours, but made no arrests. Two of the instigators, Sumito (aka Pak Lim) and Burasim, were subsequently arrested and charged with criminal destruction of property. Their trial, which is on-going, began on May 2, 2007. Prosecutors are asking for 6-month jail sentences. Ijabi leaders report that there have been no incidents since December.
On October 29, 2006, local residents went on a rampage and attacked six houses belonging to members of the Miftahus Salam mosque and religious school in Bogor, West Java. Residents believed that the mosque and school were the center of heretical teachings. Prior to the attack, Ustad Yusup Maulana, who is the principal of the school, was questioned by police. In a written statement, he admitted that he taught ideas not in accordance with Islamic law to his school's 40 students. His statement resulted in the residents' attack. Police detained Maulana and arrested two of the rioters, but it was still unclear whether they remained in custody at the end of the reporting period.
On August 8, 2006, hundreds of persons wearing masks burned down a boarding school belonging to Datuk Buluh Perindu, in Sidera, Central Sulawesi. Locals accused Perindu of being the spiritual teacher of Madi, a small minority Muslim sect. Police made no arrests.
On March 8, 2007, an estimated 200 members of FPI and Forum Betawi Rempug, a group composed of some indigenous citizens of Jakarta, attacked the Arastamar Evangelical School of Theology in East Jakarta demanding that it close down because its students sang late into the night, disturbing local community members. FPI also claimed that the school was illegal despite the fact that the school possessed official permits both for the existing building and a new dormitory. Police sent a detachment to stop the mob. The school is still functioning.
On September 2, 2006, a mob burned down the Evangelical Mission Church in Siompi, Aceh Singkil, after news spread that the church was planning a revival meeting. When a large number of Christians turned out for the meeting, they were confronted by several Muslims who disapproved of the revival meeting. The police did not intervene in the attack. Pastor Luther Saragih was briefly detained by police and told to send the Christians home. Later that night, an estimated 100 men on motorbikes set the church ablaze and went looking for Pastor Saragih and his pregnant wife. The pastor and his wife escaped into the jungle and hid there until they were found unharmed by friends early the next morning. Pastor Saragih and his wife later moved to escape continued threats.
Muslims routinely reported difficulties in establishing mosques in Muslim-minority areas of Papua, North Sulawesi, and elsewhere.
At times, hardline religious groups used pressure, intimidation, or violence against those whose message they found offensive. Despite continued criticism from Islamic hardliners, the Liberal Islam Network (JIL) maintained public appeals for individual interpretation of Islamic doctrine and religious tolerance. JIL confronted hardliners in public forums, including seminars. Militants purporting to uphold public morality sometimes attacked cafes and nightclubs that they considered venues for prostitution or that had not made payments to extremist groups.
Unforced conversions between religious groups occurred, as allowed by law, but they remained a source of controversy. Some converted to marry a person of another religion; others converted in response to religious outreach or social activities organized by religious groups. Some Muslims accused Christian missionaries of using food and microcredit programs to lure poor Muslims to convert. Some converts felt compelled not to publicize the event for family and social reasons.
In Central Sulawesi, political and economic tensions between approximately equal populations of Christians and Muslims continued to cause sporadic violent episodes resulting in deaths during the reporting period. The crimes appeared to be religiously motivated.
On September 22, 2006, Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva, and Marianus Riwu were executed for their roles in connection with sectarian violence in Poso in 2000 and in the killing of 191 Muslims in a school. The executions led to violence in the areas of Flores and West Timor, Nusa Tenggara Province, and in Central Sulawesi, with some critics asserting that the sentencing and execution of the three Christian men was a case of discrimination by authorities. In Flores, 3,000 persons rioted and burned down at least 3 Government buildings. In Kefamananu and Atambua, West Timor, between 3,000 and 5,000 persons rioted, destroying Government buildings, homes, and vehicles.
In Central Sulawesi, on the same day as the executions, two Muslims, Arham Badaruddin and Rendi Rahman, were pulled from their car and beaten to death while passing through Taripa, a predominantly Christian village. Police arrested 17 people for participating in the killings, all of whom admitted their involvement. The suspects told police that the victims were killed because of the executions of Tibo, Riwu, and Da Silva. On April 2, 2007, prosecutors in Jakarta accused all 17 suspects under the country's antiterrorism laws in the brutal killing of the 2 Muslim men on September 23, 2006. The 17 suspects are the first Christians from Central Sulawesi accused of terrorism. In June 2007 prosecutors submitted closing arguments in these cases and decisions were expected to be issued in late summer 2007. While the maximum allowable sentence is the death penalty, prosecutors requested sentences of between 15 and 20 years for the perpetrators.
Several incidents occurred following the September 2006 executions, including 3 small bombings, attacks on both Muslims and Christians, and an attack on the Central Sulawesi police chief that resulted in the mobbing and destruction of his police helicopter by a crowd of 5,000. Police continued to investigate executed killer Fabianus Tibo's accusation that 16 other Christians had masterminded the Central Sulawesi violence. In April 2007 Central Sulawesi police again questioned 10 of the 16 people named by Tibo.
SECTION IV. U.S. GOVERNMENT POLICY
The U.S. Mission, including the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, the Consulate General in Surabaya, and the Consulate in Medan, regularly engaged Government officials on specific religious freedom issues and also encouraged officials from other missions to discuss the subject with the Government. Embassy staff at all levels met frequently with religious leaders and human rights advocates to promote respect for religious freedom. Embassy staff also met regularly with NU and Muhammadiyah officials to clarify U.S. policy and discuss religious tolerance and other issues.
Mission outreach emphasized the importance of religious freedom and tolerance in a democratic society. During the reporting period, the Mission promoted pluralism and tolerance through exchanges and civil society programs.
Two hundred and thirteen Indonesians visited the United States on short-term programs that included examining the role of religion in U.S. society and politics. The programs allowed participants to explore first hand the integral role of religious pluralism, interfaith dialogue, and multiculturalism in a democratic society. For example, one youth leadership program offered Indonesian teenagers the opportunity to meet American peers in the United States. They participated in community activities, met local religious leaders, and engaged in discussions on religious tolerance. Eight Fulbright scholars from the country went to the United States to pursue degrees directly related to the practice of religion in a democratic society. Three U.S. scholars came to Indonesia to teach and conduct research on similar topics.
The U.S. Mission reached millions through the production of media programs that provided in-depth coverage of religious freedom issues from an American perspective. These included the Greetings from America radio show, which periodically featured topics such as religious freedom, religious differences, tolerance, and pluralism from the perspective of Indonesian high school and college students living in the United States. This radio show aired 9 times a week to a potential audience of 10 million persons in 6 cities.
The U.S. Mission also funded the production of a television documentary series, The Colors of Democracy, which was produced jointly in the country and the United States. The series, which initially aired during evening newscasts from December 5, 2005, until January 25, 2006, periodically addressed topics such as freedom of religion and interfaith dialogue in the United States. The Mission contributed 6,000 sets of video compact discs (VCDs) based on, The Colors of Democracy, highlighting the positive impact of religious freedom, pluralism, and interfaith activities in schools and libraries. Through an agreement with the Ministry of Education that was signed on October 11, 2006, the VCDs were incorporated into the ministry's teacher training curriculum that encompasses 32,000 schools across the country.
The U.S. Mission continued to fund the Center for Religion and Cross-cultural Studies (CRCS) at Yogyakarta's Gajah Mada University. The CRCS worked with the national Radio Republik Indonesia to produce a bimonthly talk show that promoted religious freedom, tolerance, and democracy. In addition to the live radio broadcast, the program was screened on TVRI Yogyakarta, enabling dissemination of these ideas to local communities in Yogyakarta and surrounding areas of Central Java. The content of the program was published in the local newspaper. In December 2006 the CRCS extended public discussion on these issues through the establishment of a Web site.
The Mission supported the development and production of a 12 episode television talk show entitled Islam Indonesia. The program targeted the educated middle class and young professionals and was televised every 2 weeks, providing the opportunity for the public to listen to, watch, and actively engage in debates through live phone-ins. Topics discussed included freedom of religion, tolerance, and pluralism. Each episode received between 12 and 33 phone calls.
In conjunction with a weekly magazine, the Mission supported publication of supplemental editions to provide objective information on the efforts of prodemocratic Muslim networks to support the democratic process, including religious freedom, tolerance, civil rights, and democracy. The magazine distributes 90,000 copies nationwide on a weekly basis with an estimated readership of 450,000 persons.
The Mission also supported campus seminar programs aimed at strengthening supporters of pluralism on Islamic campuses and reinforce an understanding of religious freedom, tolerance, pluralism, and gender equity. Public discussions were held on several campuses in Jakarta, Serang, Rangkasbitung, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Mataram, and Medan in cooperation with state Islamic universities and public universities such as Gajah Mada University and University of North Sumatra. More than 1,500 students from a wide range of backgrounds and 50 national and local speakers were involved in the discussions.
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|Title Annotation:||EAST ASIA AND THE PACIFIC|
|Publication:||International Religious Freedom Report|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2007|