Religious Freedom in Indonesia
Home to the world’s largest Muslim population, Indonesia legally recognizes religious freedom, but its minorities face widespread religious discrimination. Indonesia boasts the two largest Muslim social organizations, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, which number 30 million and 29 million Sunni followers, respectively. The Indonesian Constitution, based on President Sukarno’s nationalist ideology known as Pancasila, recognizes freedom of religious expression yet also proclaims monotheism as a founding principle of Indonesian nationalism. The state officially recognizes six religious communities: Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Confucianism. Indigenous animists, Baha’i, and other unrecognized religions must register with the state as cultural organizations and face certain restrictions. Proselytism is restricted, religious intermarriage is illegal, and blasphemy is a crime. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono put unusual emphasis on the blasphemy law, convicting 106 individuals during his presidency (2004-2014). Among those individuals were an atheist and Shi’a Muslims. Christians; Shi’a, Sufi, and Ahmadiyya Muslims; Buddhists; and indigenous faith members face daily discrimination by Sunni Muslims. In 2013, Sunni militants bombed a Buddhist temple and forced a Shi’a village to flee to a sports stadium. Indonesia’s mainstream religious leaders typically preach pluralism but have failed to properly address religious violence. In 2014 NU denied the significance of religious violence in Indonesia. Local laws that enforce religious codes exacerbate religious tensions, such as use of sharia law; for instance, religious police in Aceh Province have sparked controversy by enforcing strict Islamic dress codes. In 2015 Bogor City reduced its citizens’ religious freedoms by criminalizing Shi’a Islam.