Should Outsiders Be Meddling In Indonesia’s Religious Affairs? その他

A woman who is a member of Ahmadiyah Islamic sect, whose son and two others died in a mob attack, walks by the remains of a family home after it was burned in Pandeglang, Banten. (AFP Photo/Nurani Nuutong)
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As local authorities debate over banishing Indonesia’s Ahmadiyah Muslim sect and several congregations remain barred from their houses of worship, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono this week will jet off to the United States and address an audience specifically concerned with respect for religious freedom. But it will not be an occasion for the country’s leader to be criticized.
Instead he will be the guest of honor at a ceremony hosted by New York-based Appeal of Conscience Foundation. There he is expected to accept an award from the interfaith coalition of business leaders “in recognition of his work to support human rights and religious freedom in the country.”
Yudhoyono’s nomination for the World Statesman Award has sparked outrage within Indonesia. Many have complained that this “inappropriate” recognition propels an idealistic notion to the world that Indonesia is, in fact, a model of religious harmony, which begs the broader question as to what role the international community should play within Indonesia’s struggle for religious tolerance.
For Andreas Harsono, researcher for Human Rights Watch in Indonesia, the ACF’s decision to award the country’s president is a source of significant frustration.
“We are concerned because it will send the wrong message about Indonesia,” he said.
In February the international rights group released a report documenting numerous instances and statistics that pointed to an escalation of religious intolerance and faith-motivated violence throughout the archipelago. It also strongly condemned the government’s “complicity” in tackling the trend.

A disconnect
Riding on global publicity that the report attracted, Andreas has been traveling throughout the United States and Europe promoting HRW’s concerns and findings. Yet he says the tour has been plagued by a disconnect between how world leaders describe the state of religious harmony in Indonesia and what is actually happening on the ground.

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