Highest number of religious freedom violations took place in Jakarta so far this year: Setara Institute

Protests against Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, Christian governor of Jakarta, 31 March 2017.  Photo: Cahaya Maulidian (Winluxhuman) / CC BY-SA 4.0
Protests against Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, Christian governor of Jakarta, 31 March 2017. Photo: Cahaya Maulidian (Winluxhuman) / CC BY-SA 4.0

Many have been concerned about rising religious intolerance throughout Indonesia over the past few years, and the Setara Institute has been carefully documenting specific incidents in which religious freedoms have been violated to highlight those areas of the archipelago that are the most problematic.

According to the Indonesia-based NGO, which conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom and human rights issues, there have been 136 incidences of religious freedom violations in 20 out of 26 of Indonesia’s provinces so far this year. And the capital city of Jakarta has the unenviable distinction of being the region with the highest number of violations thus far.

“Throughout the 11 years we have monitored religious freedom violations in Indonesia, this is the first time Jakarta has had a higher number than West Java,” Halili said at the Setara Institute offices in Jakarta on Monday as quoted by Kompas.

The institute’s data showed 23 reported incidences of religious freedom being violated in Jakarta thus far this year, compared to 19 in West Java.

Other provinces with significant numbers of reports were the Yogyakarta Special Administrative Region (DIY) with nine violations as well as seven events in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB).

Setara categorizes violations by whether they were committed by state institutions or non-state actors. Out of the 136 violations so far in 2018, 40 were by state actors, mostly police, local governments and education institutions.

Reported violations included instances of intolerance and government discrimination against religious minorities, blasphemy reports, terrorism, violence, and hate speech. Setara noted that the violations also included those against Muslims, such as the attempts by some universities to ban the use of the niqab face veil by female students.

Hallili said that the number of violations has increased significantly over previous years, and pointed to the increasing politicization of religion, the blasphemy law and social media (coupled with a lack of digital literacy) as the main causes.

Last year, the Setara Institute also ranked Jakarta as the least tolerant city in Indonesia, behind Banda Aceh, due in large part to the politicization of religious issues in 2017’s fiercely contested Jakarta gubernatorial race.

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