Religious Freedom in Indonesia
Home to the world’s largest Muslim population, Indonesia also boasts the two largest Muslim social organizations, Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, which number 40 million and 30 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 and other unrecognized religious communities must register with the state as cultural organizations and face certain restrictions. Conversion, proselytism, and intermarriage are heavily restricted, and blasphemy is a punishable offense. Blasphemy charges in particular pose a significant threat to religious freedom in Indonesia. In April 2012, Alexander Aan was charged and convicted of blasphemy when he composed Facebook posts in support of atheism, and in June 2012, Tajul Muluk was charged and convicted of blasphemy when he openly proclaimed that the Qur'an is not the official text of Islam. Both individuals were sentenced to two year prison terms. Indonesia’s mainstream religious leaders typically preach pluralism, and the majority of Indonesians harbor tolerant attitudes towards other faiths. Yet, interreligious conflicts do occur as economic and immigration factors are often viewed as the sources of these conflicts. The government has permitted several Indonesian provinces o enforce local sharia law, and religious police in the Muslim-majority Aceh Province specifically have sparked controversy by enforcing strict Islamic dress and modesty codes.