Jakarta least tolerant city in Indonesia, behind Banda Aceh: Setara Institute

Demonstrators at a rally to protest former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama on November  4, 2016. Photo: AFP
Demonstrators at a rally to protest former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama on November 4, 2016. Photo: AFP

Many people are concerned about a rise in religious intolerance throughout Indonesia, and one of the prime examples used to illustrate those concerns is the highly politicized blasphemy charges and protests against former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama that cost him the election and ultimately sent him to jail.

But compared to other cities in Indonesia, is Jakarta really that bad when it comes to intolerance? Well, yes. In fact, it’s the least tolerant city in the whole country.

That is according to the results of a new study by the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, an Indonesia-based NGO that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom and human rights issue. Based on the results of their latest “Tolerant Cities Index”, Jakarta is the least tolerant in all of Indonesia, coming in below even sharia law-enforcing Banda Aceh.

“In the ranking of the Tolerant City Index 2017, Jakarta fell from 65th to 94th place with the lowest score of 2.30 percent, mainly due to intolerance and the politicization of religious identity in the capital ahead of, during and after the 2017 election,” said Setara Institute researcher Halili at a press conference revealing the results of the index yesterday as quoted by Detik.

The index’s scores are based on a 1-7 scale with seven being most tolerant, and take into account a variety of metrics including the city’s development plan, government regulations, government actions, government statement and actions related to intolerance, violations of religious freedom and religious demographics. It is based on data collected from November 2016 to October 2017.

“The significant change in (Jakarta’s ranking) are due to social regulations relating to violations of freedom of religion and worship (KBB), there have been least 24 incidents of KBB violations in the last year and 25% percent of those violations came from Jakarta” Halili said.

Following Jakarta at the bottom of the index are Banda Aceh, Bogor, Cilegon, Depok, Yogyakarta, Banjarmasin, Makassar, Padang and Mataram.

The cities with the highest tolerance score was Manado with 5.9, followed by Pematangsiantar, Salatiga, Singkawang, Tual, Binjai, Kotamobagu, Palu, Tebing Tinggi and Surakata.

Tigor Naipospos, the deputy chairman of the Setara Institute, said the goal of the index was for local governments to evaluate their policies, and said the tolerance scores should not necessarily be generalized to the citizens of those cities.

Many human rights activists have argued that government regulations are an even greater threat to religious tolerance than extremists since they formalize and foster discrimination at an official level.

There have been concerns that recently inaugurated Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, who defeated Ahok in part due to his courting of mainstream (and hardline) Muslim voters, will enact policies based on Islamic-sharia law. He has attempted to alleviate these concerns, but his actions suggest otherwise.

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