Indonesia: Religious minorities at risk as Islamist hardliner groups gain strength

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Indonesian Christians

Religious minorities feeling insecure in Indonesia, after Islamic hardliners pose threats to Churches and Christians.

According to details, Islamic hardliner groups are exhibiting an increasingly militant tide towards other faiths in Bandh Aceh, an Indonesian province. It is in this province where, Sahria law is imposed and under which all non-Muslims are required ot live according to the Sharia.

In a recent incident, an extremist group (FPI) Islamic Defenders Front burnt a church in Aceh Singkil, which is the most conformist province of Indonesia. FPI after burning down the church did make any apology claiming that because the authorities were ignoring there complaints against the church so they have burnt it down themselves.

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Chief of FPI’s Aceh chapter, Al-Tahiry stated, “These churches have been mushrooming here for years and the Christians are violating laws because they don’t have permits. If the police or the government don’t do anything about it, then don’t blame the Muslims for getting emotional and responding. Islam shouldn’t have to be a guest in its own home.”

As viewed by the analysts the Islamic hardliner group FPI and various other similar hard-line groups have found courage and support by government’s inactivity, and are oftentimes used as legal excuses to weaken Christians, Hindus, and other Islamic sects in the country.

Moreover, the Indonesian Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin also acknowledged in an interview with that the prospect of minorities in the country could be “fragile.” During this interview, he expressed an urgent need for enhanced law enforcement in the wake of the attack on Churches in Ache. “These conflicts should be resolved with dialogue … and without causing losses to any side, by which we mean everybody’s rights should be upheld,” he said.

Besides, the date in accordance with census portrays an increase at the double rate in Aceh Singkil from about 6,500 at the start of the century, at that time they made up six percent of the population. However, in recent times, there are more than 11 percent of Christians out of total population, despite the fact that the by and large population of the district has remained stagnant.