Baha'i News -- Denying basic human rights, JAKARTA POST
Denying basic human rights
Opinion and Editorial September 23, 2002
I question the logic of the statements made by Brig. Gen. Iman Haryatna, the police chief of West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), regarding
the reasons behind the ransacking and burning of the Ahmadiyah secretariat building and the Ahmadiyah mosque at Selong (East
Lombok calm after arson attacks, The Jakarta Post, Sept. 13). Apparently, he feels that the 1983 ban on the Ahmadiyah community
should be enforced more strongly, which would prevent such ``unexpected events'' from occurring.
In point of fact, it seems that the Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI) and local factions siding with the MUI, which had originally
called for the ban, are fomenting intolerance in the local community. There are at least eight Ahmadiyah mosques in Jakarta
alone, as well as over 240 mosques and missions throughout the country. In each of these places, tolerance for other religious
communities is fostered, and interfaith harmony is promoted. Can the MUI say that it, too, fosters interfaith harmony, when its acts
of intolerance are a matter of public record?
The U.S. State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, in its Annual Report for International Religious Freedom
(2001), lists many of MUI's demonstrations of intolerance. These include the issuing of edicts banning the Hare Krishna and Bah'ai
communities, the rejection of the Salamulla Congregation (Jamaah Salamulla), which ultimately contributed to the vandalization of
its retreat in West Java in May of 2001, and its denigration of the Jehovah's Witnesses community.
On a larger scale, such intolerance is a reflection of the Indonesian government as a whole, which provides MUI with recognition and
financing. Government policies, such as requiring citizens to indicate religious preference on their national ID cards, have been
backward and intolerant from the start. Many hard-working citizens, who are not members of the six ``official'' religions approved
by the government, find themselves with great difficulties in registering their marriages and births and in receiving employment as
a result of this humiliating practice.
Even from thousands of miles away here in America, it is easy to take notice of such practices, which deny citizens their fundamental
rights to religious freedom. This letter is an example of how the world continues to watch Indonesia, hoping for such violations to
DR. ARSHAD M. KHAN, Los Angeles, California, USA
©Copyright 2002, JAKARTA POST (Indonesia)
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