Advocate warns on persecution in Myanmar and Indonesia
Consequences could spread beyond the two nations, he claims
Picture: Catholic News Agency
- Adelaide Mena for Catholic News Agency
- September 20, 2013
The persecution of religious minorities in both Indonesia and Burma pose dangers not only to the two countries, but to the region and the world, says a human rights advocate who specializes in the area.
Speaking Sept. 12 on “Radical Islamism in Indonesia and Militant Buddhism in Burma,” a talk sponsored by the Hudson Institute, Benedict Rogers said that “there is a real danger of these situations feeding off each other.”
He added that religious freedom threats in the region pose “serious consequences for the two countries and beyond.”
Rogers is the East Asia team leader for Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a London-based group that investigates religious freedom around the world.
Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority country, has “been held up for a long time as a model” of religious pluralism and democracy, especially in Muslim world, he explained. However, “that pluralism is increasingly under threat from radical extremism and religious intolerance.”
Indonesia's population is around 87 percent Muslim, and most Indonesian Muslims are Sunni. However, there are some Shia Muslims, as well as Ahmadis – a heterodox Muslim movement founded in the 19th century.
Rogers said that “a growing number of churches” and Ahmadiyya mosques “are being forced to close” because of local ordinances restricting religious practice in public places and the licensing of places of worship set in place by city governments, in contradiction to the nation's constitution.
Self-proclaimed atheists have also been jailed for public statements of non-belief. In addition, a vigilante group known as the Islamic Defenders Front stages protests and uses violence against Christian, Ahmadiyya, and Shia groups and congregations.