printable banner

U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Indonesia


International Religious Freedom Report
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Share

The Constitution provides for religious freedom for members of officially recognized religions and belief in one supreme God, and the Government generally respects these provisions; however, there are some restrictions on certain types of religious activity and unrecognized religions. The law officially "embraces" five religions--Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, and Hinduism; however, on June 1, 2001, the Government lifted its remaining ban on the Jehovah's Witnesses, and in January 2000, President Abdurrahman Wahid lifted the ban on the practice of Confucianism that had existed since 1967. While only these religions are recognized officially, the law also states that other religions are not forbidden.

There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom during the period covered by this report. Christians complained that it was difficult to obtain the necessary permits to build new churches or to expand existing churches. The Government failed to respond effectively to violence perpetrated and encouraged by radical groups claiming to represent certain religious views. Despite the Government's reputation for promoting religious tolerance, the Government was not able to halt the sectarian violence or rein in religious extremism. Religious violence and the lack of an effective government response to punish perpetrators and prevent further attacks continued to lead to allegations that officials were complicit in some of the incidents or, at a minimum, allowed them to occur with impunity. In the Moluccas, where numerous churches were attacked, the Government only investigated a few cases thoroughly, and there were no reports that any perpetrators were punished.

Religious intolerance, especially on the part of extreme Muslims towards religious minorities, including Christians, increasingly was evident and became a matter of growing concern to many religious minority members and Muslim moderates. The violence included repeated attacks on entertainment centers in Jakarta by Islamic groups during the Muslim fasting month on the grounds that such centers promoted "vice" and violated Muslim values and law. The lack of religious tolerance continued to manifest itself in scores of violent incidents in the Moluccas, including forced conversions and killings of individuals because of their religious affiliations. There were credible reports that several hundred Muslims were forced to convert to Christianity in North Maluku in early 2000 and thousands of Christians were forced to convert to Islam in North Maluku and Maluku provinces during the period covered by this report and in previous reporting periods. Religious intolerance also manifested itself in numerous attacks on churches in various locations throughout the country, ranging from minor damage to total destruction. Mosques also were attacked in Maluku Province. While in the past the victims in the Moluccas conflict were equally divided between Christians and Muslims, most of the estimated 1,200 victims during the period covered by this report were Christian.

The United States discusses religious freedom issues with the Government in the context of its overall dialog and policy of promoting human rights. During the period covered by this report, the U.S. Government actively engaged with religious leaders and the Ministry of Religion and facilitated a number of interfaith seminars, dialogs, and workshops. These activities involved Indonesian government officials and civil society organizations and addressed mutual concerns, in particular, the forced conversions of Christians and Muslims in the Moluccas, and the importance of religious freedom and tolerance in a pluralistic society and democracy.

Section I: Religious Demography

The country is an archipelago of 17,000 islands covering a total area of approximately 1.8 million square miles (approximately 0.7 million miles are land mass) and its population is 203 million according to 2000 Indonesian census data. Two-thirds of the population resides on the island of Java. By the end of the period covered by this report, the Government had not yet released its 2000 census data on the breakdown of religious affiliations in the country, but according to the 1990 census, 87 percent of the population professed Islam, 6.0 percent were Protestant, 3.6 percent Catholic, 1.8 percent Hindu, 1.0 percent Buddhist, and 0.6 percent "other," which includes traditional indigenous religions, other Christian groups, and Judaism. There is evidence that suggests that since 1990--and particularly with the recent lifting of restrictions on such faiths as Confucianism--the number of persons professing a religion other than Islam or Christianity may have increased slightly. There is no information available on the number of atheists in the country; however, the numbers are believed to be minuscule.

Muslims are the majority population in most regions of Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan, West Nusa Tenggara, Sulawesi, and North Maluku and they constitute over one-half of Maluku Province's population. Muslims are distinct minorities only in Irian Jaya/Papua, Bali, East Nusa Tenggara, and North Sulawesi. The vast majority of Muslims are Sunni, although there also are adherents of Shi'a, Sufi, Ahmadiyah, and other branches of Islam.

The mainstream Muslim community is roughly divided into two groups: urban "modernists" who closely adhere to orthodox Sunni theology; and rural, predominantly Javanese "traditionalists" who incorporate elements of Javanese mysticism, Hinduism, and Buddhism into their practice of Islam. The "modernists," represented by the 35-million strong Muhammadiyah social organization, are the majority in Aceh, East and North Sumatra, East and South Kalimantan, and South and Central Sulawesi. The "traditionalists" are the majority in West, Central and East Java, and in West Nusa Tenggara/Lombok and are represented by the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) social organization, which has 40 million members. Muhammidiyah, but not NU, also is represented in East Nusa Tenggara and Irian Jaya/Papua.

There also are small numbers of messianic Islamic groups, including the Malaysian-affiliated Jamaah Salamulla (or Darul Arqam), and the Indonesian Jamaah Salamulla (or Salamulla Congregation). Darul Arqam companies operate in Riau and West Java Provinces and in Jakarta. Led by a woman who claims to have been appointed by the Angel Gabriel to lead the group, the Indonesian Salamulla Congregation has approximately 100 members. Amadhiyah followers claim that their leader Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was an Indian Muslim prophet and that anyone can become a prophet. Amadhiyah has 242 branches spread throughout much of the country; there are 8 Amadhiyah mosques in Jakarta. There also are approximately 50 Shi'a groups in the country, since the fall of President Soeharto in May 1998.

Most Christians reside in the eastern part of the country. Roman Catholicism is predominant in East Nusa Tenggara Province and in southeast Maluku Province, while Protestantism is predominant in central Maluku Province and in North Maluku and in North Sulawesi Provinces. In the easternmost province of Irian Jaya/Papua, Protestants predominate in the north, and Catholics in the south. (This is due primarily to the Dutch policy--continued by the Indonesian Government--of dividing the territory between foreign Catholic and Protestant missionaries who remain active in many areas of Irian Jaya/Papua.) Other significant Christian populations are located in North Sumatra, the seat of the influential Batak Protestant Church, which in early 1999 reunited after a government-manipulated division in 1993. There also are significant Christian populations in West (mostly Catholic) and Central Kalimantan (mostly Protestant) and on Java. Many urban Sino-Indonesians adhere to Christian faiths or combine Christianity with Buddhism or Confucianism.

Over the past 3 decades, internal migration, both government-sponsored and spontaneous, has altered the demography of the country. In particular it has increased the percentage of Muslims in the heretofore predominantly Christian eastern part of the country. By the early 1990's, Christians became a minority for the first time in some areas of the Moluccas. Some Christians believe that the Government intentionally sought to alter the demographic balance of the eastern part of the country by resettling Muslims in the area and providing various subsidies for those who settled spontaneously. While government-sponsored transmigration of citizens from heavily populated Java, Madura and Bali to more sparsely populated areas of the country contributed to the increase in the Muslim population in the areas of resettlement, there is no evidence to suggest that creating a Muslim majority in Christian areas was the objective of this policy, and most Muslim migration was spontaneous.

Most Hindus live in Bali, where they form over 90 percent of the population. Balinese Hinduism has developed various local characteristics that distinguish it from Hinduism as practiced on the Indian subcontinent. There also is a significant Hindu minority (called Keharingan) in Central Kalimantan and East Kalimantan, East Java, Lampung (Sumatra), Medan (North Sumatra), South and Central Sulawesi, and Lombok (West Nusatenggara). Many of these Hindus left Bali for these areas as part of the Government's transmigration program. The Hindu Association Pansada Hindu Dharma estimates that approximately 4,000 Chinese Hindus reside in Medan. Hindu groups such as Hare Krishna also are present in the country. In addition there are some indigenous faiths, including the "Keharingan" in Central Kalimantan (site of the first Hindu Kingdom in the country) and the Naurus on Seram Island (Maluku Province). The Naurus practice a combination of Hindu and animist beliefs, and many also have adapted some Protestant principles. Several hundred Hare Krishna followers live in Bali.

Eight schools of Buddhism are practiced in the country: Mahayana, Buddhayana, Theravada, Tridharma, Tantrayana, Kasogatan, Nichiren, and Maitreya (a branch of Mahayana). Mahayana has the largest number of followers, followed by Theravada, and Tantrayana. Most, but not all, Buddhists are of ethnic Chinese origin. Like the Sino-Indonesian population, most Buddhists are located in or near major urban and trading centers, rather than rural areas. The largest Maitreya Buddhist temple in the country is on Batam Island, Riau Province (Sumatra).

There are two national-level Buddhist organizations in the country, one a splinter group from the other: WALUBI (the Indonesian Buddhist Council) is the older organization and has affiliates from all the schools but Buddhayana, while members of the organization KASI (Indonesian Great Sangha Conference) primarily are Buddhayana. Buddhayana is an Indonesian school that was created by a monk in 1956. It combines Mahayana, Theravada, and Tantrayana teachings. WALUBI followers celebrated the annual May Waisak festival at Borobudur temple in Yogyakarta (Central Java), while KASI members celebrated the holiday in Jakarta.

There are approximately 2.5 million adherents of Confucianism (also known as "Chinese religion" and "Konghucu") in the country, and while most are Sino-Indonesians, other citizens also practice Confucianism. According to the Supreme Council for Confucian Religion in Indonesia (MATAKIN) there are approximately 2 million followers in the country. The majority of Confucians are located on Java, Bangka Island, North Sumatra, North Sulawesi, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, and North Maluku. Many Confucians also practice Buddhism and some Christianity. Before the ban on Confucianism was lifted in 2000 (see Section II), Confucian temples usually were located inside Buddhist temples.

Animism and other types of traditional belief systems, sometimes generically termed "Aliran Kepercayaan" (meaning beliefs) and "Kebatinan" (meaning spirituality), still are practiced in Central and East Java, Kalimantan, and in many of the eastern parts of the country, including isolated areas in Irian Jaya/Papua, the Moluccas, Flores, and Sumba. Many animists combine their beliefs with one of the recognized religions.

No verifiable data on the number of practicing Jehovah's Witnesses are available, although some leaders estimate that there are approximately 40,000 followers in the country spread throughout a number of provinces. Many adherents are Sino-Indonesians, but there also are followers from other ethnic groups, including Javanese, Dayak, and Batak.

There is a small population of citizens who practice Judaism. There is one synagogue, in Surabaya, East Java.

Falun Gong claims approximately 1,500 followers. Although most Indonesian followers are of Chinese descent, Falun Gong leaders claim that among their members are Muslims, Christians, and persons from other religious denominations.

There are no data available on the religious affiliations of foreign nationals and immigrants.

A limited number of foreign, primarily Christian, missionaries operate in predominantly Christian areas in regions such as Irian Jaya/Papua and Kalimantan.

Section II: Status of Religious Freedom

Legal/Policy Framework

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion for members of officially recognized religions and belief in one supreme God, and the Government generally respects this right in practice; however, despite recent changes in Government regulations promoting freedom of religion, there are some restrictions on certain types of religious activity and on unrecognized religions. In addition the Government at times has tolerated society's abuse of religious freedom, claiming that it does not have the capacity or authority to deal with the "emotions" of private individuals or groups who target others because of their beliefs. Article 29 of the country's 1945 Constitution provides for religious freedom for members of officially recognized religions, in particular Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. Presidential Decree No. 6, promulgated in January 2000, lifted legal restrictions on the practice of Confucianism that had existed since 1967; however, Confucianism does not enjoy the degree of freedom accorded to the other official religions. During the period covered by this report, the Government lifted its remaining ban on the Jehovah's Witnesses (Attorney General Decision No. 255-06/2001), by revoking Attorney General Decision No. 129-12-1976, which had banned the group from openly practicing their faith.

While the law formally "embraces" only five officially recognized religions and to a more limited degree, Confucianism and Jehovah's Witnesses, it explicitly states that other religions, including Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Shintoism, and Taoism are not forbidden. The Government permits the practice of the mystical, traditional beliefs of "Aliran Kepercayaan" and "Kebatinan." Some religious minorities--specifically the Baha'i and Rosicrucians--were given the freedom to organize by Presidential Decree 69/2000 (May 2000), which revoked Presidential Decree 264/1962 banning their activities. In 1998 the highest law-making body, the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), adopted a Human Rights Charter that provides citizens the freedom to practice their religion and does not specify particular religions. Article 22 of the country's 1999 Human Rights Law mandates that individuals are free to practice one's religion, and provides that the Government will protect these freedoms. The law allows conversion between faiths, and such conversions do occur, although converts to minority religions feel constrained not to publicize the event. However, there is a legal requirement to adhere to the official state ideology, Pancasila; because the first tenet of Pancasila is belief in one supreme God, atheism is forbidden.

Although Islam is the religion of the vast majority of the population, the country is not an Islamic state. In the past 50 years fundamentalist Islamic groups sporadically have sought to establish an Islamic state (see Section III), but the country's mainstream Muslim community continued to reject the idea. Proponents of an Islamic state argued unsuccessfully in 1945 and throughout the parliamentary democracy period of the 1950's for the inclusion of language (the so-called "Jakarta Charter") in the Constitution's preamble making it obligatory for Muslims to follow the dictates of Shari'a. During the Soeharto regime, advocacy of an Islamic state was forbidden. With the loosening of restrictions on freedom of speech and religion that followed the fall of Soeharto in May 1998, proponents of the "Jakarta Charter" have resumed their advocacy efforts. Inclusion of the language became an issue during the August 2000 People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) discussions of constitutional amendments. President Wahid voiced strong opposition to the proposal at the 2000 MPR session, arguing that its implementation would threaten national unity. Nevertheless, most government officials and parliamentarians are Muslim, and many have become increasingly responsive to their predominantly Muslim constituencies' needs and interests. Furthermore much of the marriage and inheritance laws either are based on or compatible with Shari'a law. One Muslim interlocutor estimated that over 70 percent of these laws are derived from Shari'a principles.

Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, and Buddhism are the only religions that are registered officially with the Ministry of Religion, despite the lifting of bans on Confucianism and Jehovah's Witnesses. While other religions are not banned, they only are able to register as social not religious organizations with the Ministry of Home Affairs. Followers of "Aliran Kepercayaan" must register with the Ministry of Education's Department of National Education.

The registration and activities of official religions must be in compliance with a number of Ministry of Religion and other ministerial directives. Among these are the Regulation on Building Houses of Worship (Joint-Ministerial Decree No. 1/1969); the Guidelines for the Propagation of Religion (Ministerial Decision No. 70/1978); Overseas Aid to Religious Institutions in Indonesia (Ministerial Decision No. 20/1978); and Proselytizing Guidelines (No. 77/1978).

Religious groups and other social organizations must obtain permits to hold religious concerts and other types of public events. Permits usually are granted in an unbiased manner, unless there is concern that the activity could draw the anger of members of another faith who live in the area of the proposed venue.

According to the Government's current 5-year Broad Outline of State Policy the central Government should: ensure all laws and regulations are in accordance with religious principles; increase religious harmony and interfaith dialog; encourage descriptive rather than dogmatic religious education; and increase the role and function of religious institutions to overcome the difficulties of social transition in the country and to strengthen interreligious and interethnic harmony.

New election laws permitted religiously oriented parties, predominantly those affiliated with Islam but also with Christianity, to participate in the June 1999 parliamentary elections, the first representative elections since 1955 judged to be free and fair. There are 15 political parties directly or partially affiliated with Islam: Islamic Development Party (KAMI); Islamic Members' Party (PUI); People's Development Party (PKU); Masyumi Islamic Political Party (PPIM); New Masyumi Party (Masyumi Baru); United Development Party (PPP); 2 United Islamic parties (PSII); Crescent Star Party (PBB); Justice Party (PK); Nahdlatul Members Party (PNU); Unity Party (PP); Democratic Islamic Party (PID); National United Solidarity Party (PSUN); and the People's Development Party (PKB). The country has three Christian parties: KRISNA, or the National Indonesian Christian Party, Catholic Democratic Party (PKD), and the Democratic People's Devotion Party (PDKB). The members of the Buddhist group KASI have taken an interest in political participation and reportedly plan to form a party called the Buddhist Democratic Party of Indonesia (Partai Buddha Demokrat Indonesia). In the June 1999 elections the 3 Christian parties received relatively few votes, while the 15 Muslim parties together garnered approximately 30 percent of the vote. Of the Muslim parties, those with moderate views on the role of Islam in government and society dominated. Parties that strongly advocated an Islamization of government policy won a small percentage of the vote and few parliamentary seats.

All military major commands have religious facilities and programs for five official religions (Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, and Buddhism). There are organized religious services and prayer meetings for each religion. Christians often have their own prayer groups that meet on Fridays, coinciding with the Muslim prayer day. In the past, there was a dedicated Religious Corps in the military, with all faiths represented, but it was eliminated during the Soeharto regime. Some officers are qualified as preachers and perform this function as a voluntary additional duty, but civilian religious leaders conduct most religious services on military posts.

Religious speeches are permitted if they are delivered to coreligionists and are not intended to convert persons of other faiths. However, televised religious programming is not restricted, and viewers can watch religious programs offered by any of the recognized faiths. In addition to many Muslim programs, ranging from religious instruction to talk shows on family issues, there also are a number of Christian programs, including televangelists, as well as programming by and for Protestants, Catholics, Buddhists, and Hindus.

Muslim, Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist holidays are celebrated as national holidays. Muslim holidays celebrated during the period covered by this report included: the Ascension of Muhammad (October 25); Idul Fitri (December 27 to 28); Idul Adah (March 5); the Muslim New Year (March 26); and Mohammed's Birthday (June 4). Nationally celebrated Christian holidays were Christmas Day, Good Friday (April 13), and the Ascension of Christ (May 24). Two other national holidays were the Hindu holiday, Nyepi (March 25) and the Buddhist holiday, Waisak (May 7). The Chinese New Year, celebrated by Confucians, is not a national holiday.

A number of government officials, as well as prominent religious and political leaders, were involved directly in, or supported, a number of interfaith groups, including the Society for Interreligious Dialog (MADIA), the Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace (ICRP), the Indonesian Committee on Religion and Peace (also ICRP), the Institute for Interfaith Dialog (Interfidei), and the Indonesian Peace Forum (FID), which was formed by political, religious, and grassroots leaders in response to the December 2000 Christmas Eve bombings and bombing attempts. President Wahid continued to emphasize harmony, tolerance, and mutual respect among different religious communities. Other highlevel officials made public statements and emphasized the importance of respect for religious diversity.

Restrictions on Religious Freedom

Some laws, policies, and actions continued to restrict and discriminate against the religious freedom of religious groups, at times including officially recognized groups, and the Government (i.e., the police) tolerated discrimination and abuse against religious groups by private actors.

On June 1, 2001, the Ministry of Justice revoked the 1976 decision by the Attorney General, reinforced by a separate decision by the same office in 1978, which banned Jehovah's Witnesses from practicing their faith. Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Trinitarian Christians instigated the Government bans and that perhaps some mainstream Christian leaders have influenced government bias against the group. Jehovah's Witnesses report that they continued to experience difficulty registering marriages, enrolling children in school, and in other civil matters in some but not all areas of the country. However, over the last few years, adherents have been able to obtain police permits to hold meetings in hotels and other public sites.

Historically the Government has tried to control Muslim groups whose practices deviate from mainstream Islamic beliefs because of pressure by nongovernmental leaders of mainstream Muslim groups and out of concern for national unity. In 1994 the Government banned the activities of the messianic Islamic group Darul Arqam; however, the Government has not enforced the ban, permitting the organization in practice to circumvent the ban by forming commercial companies, which distribute "halal" goods through food stalls and retail businesses. The Government has banned, in some provinces, the messianic Islamic group Darul Arqam and the Al-Ma'Unah school. The Government closely monitors Islamic groups considered to be deviating from orthodox tenets, and in the past has dissolved some groups. During the period covered by this report, the National Ulemas Council (MUI), which receives government recognition and funding for its activities, continued to oppose a small Islamic spiritual group, the Jamaah Salamulla (Salamulla Congregation) (see Section III). The Jamaah Salamulla believes in reincarnation, employs meditation, and resorts to self-flagellation and burning of the body to achieve spirituality. In May 2001, a mob vandalized the group's retreat in West Java (see Section III). The local village head had issued orders for group followers to vacate the area because their beliefs were "deviant," and they were disturbing the neighborhood.

The Ministry of Religion occasionally monitors the attendance of followers of minority faiths at their places of worship. In a few reported cases, Ministry officials asked the leaders of churches why their membership was low, suggesting that perhaps the church should close down if it had few members. However, many of the restrictions or bans on minority religions or on non-mainstream subsets of leading religions occurred at the provincial or district (kabupaten) level. In some cases, local religious organizations issued the bans on minority religions or groups (see Section III); however, the Government did nothing to challenge these bans. Some religious minority leaders expressed concern that the onset of decentralization and enhanced regional autonomy in the country, which will empower provincial and district governments, might result in issuance of regulations by local officials that could erode the right of minorities to practice their religions. For example, during the period covered by this report the Central Sulawesi branch of the National Ulemas Council (MUI), a nongovernmental organization (NGO) issued an edict banning Hare Krishna in the province. The chief public prosecutor's office in Bali issued a ruling in January 2001 that the local ban on Hare Krishna would remain in place because Hare Krishna practices "disturbed the peaceful lifestyle of Balinese Hindus" (see Section III). Some mainstream Balinese Hindus had lobbied the local public prosecutor's office to reinforce the ban on Hare Krishna.

Because the first tenet of the country's national doctrine, Pancasila, is the belief in one supreme God, atheism is forbidden; however, there were no reports of the persecution of atheists.

The Government prohibits proselytizing by recognized religions on the grounds that such activity, especially in areas heavily dominated by another recognized religion, potentially is disruptive. Ministry of Religion Decision No. 70/1978 (Proselytizing Guidelines) and the Guidelines for Proselytizing and Foreign Assistance to Indonesian Religious Organizations (No. 1/1979) forbid proselytizing by one recognized religion among the followers of another recognized religion. A 1979 Joint Ministry of Religion/Interior Decree (No. 1/1979) stipulates that the members of one religion are not allowed to try to convert members of other religions, including through bribes, persuasion, or distribution of religious materials (pamphlets, magazines, and other printed materials) to persons of other faiths. Door-to-door proselytizing to persons of other faiths also is proscribed. However, the law allows conversion between faiths, and such conversions do occur. Converts to religions other than Islam usually are silent about their change in faith, and there is no data on the numbers of conversions. Independent observers note that it has become increasingly difficult to obtain official recognition for interfaith marriages between Muslims and non-Muslims. Persons who are not members of one of the accepted religions also have difficulty in obtaining official recognition of their marriages.

Citizens must indicate their religion on the national identification cards; however, application of the regulation has been subject to local interpretation, and in some local areas, citizens must list one of the officially recognized religions regardless of whether or not they adhere to one of those religions. In other parts of the country where there are large Confucian populations, citizens can list their religion as Confucianism, and in parts of Java and Kalimantan, citizens can list "Aliran Kepercayaan" or "Kebatinan" as their faith. However, all citizens must specify a religion. It is obligatory to list a religion to receive a national identification card, and failure to identify a religion can make it impossible to obtain the identity card that is required for employment. Marriage and birth registrations also require citizens to list their religion from among those officially recognized and native spiritual groups (including "Aliran Kepercayaan" and "Kebatinan"). In order to register the birth of a child, a parent must present a valid marriage certificate. As a result, adherents of nonrecognized religions have difficulty registering and obtaining marriage and birth certificates. Even though the Government lifted the ban on the practice of Confucianism in 2000, followers still have difficulties registering their marriages in many parts of the country. There are some interfaith groups that are lobbying to remove the requirement to list one's religion on national identification cards. However, many Muslim organizations oppose the change, arguing that it is important to know if a deceased person is Muslim in order to prepare the body for proper religious burial.

According to Guidelines on International Aid for Indonesian Religious Organizations (Ministry of Religion Decree No. 77/1978), foreign religious entities must obtain permission from the Ministry of Religion to provide any type of assistance (in-kind, personnel, and financial) to Indonesian religious groups. Although these guidelines are not enforced always, some Christian groups allege that when they are, they usually are applied to restrict the religious activities of minority groups, including Christians, and rarely are applied to Muslim groups, unless they are non-mainstream Islamic groups.

Since 1985 foreign missionaries must obtain work permit visas, and laws and decrees from the 1970's and 1980's limit the duration of the visas. These visas are difficult to obtain, as are visa extensions, although some extensions have been granted for remote areas like Irian Jaya/Papua. Ministerial Decision No. 49/1980 on Recommendations for Employment Applications of Foreign Religious Workers stipulates that all foreign religious workers must receive a recommendation from the Ministry of Religion (written by the Ministry's Legal and Human Resources Department and signed by the Ministry's Secretary General). To obtain ministry permission, the applicant must obtain and submit: a letter from his/her sponsor; a letter from the Indonesian Embassy in the applicant's country allowing the applicant to obtain a temporary stay visa (VBS); a curriculum vitae; evidence demonstrating that the applicant has skills that a citizen cannot offer; a letter of approval from the Ministry of Religion's provincial director; a letter of support from the Director General of the Ministry of Religion who handles matters concerning the applicant's religion; a letter from the receiving religious institution in the country confirming that the applicant will work no more than 2 years in the country before he/she will be replaced by a citizen, if one can be found; statistical information on the number of followers of the religion in the community; permission from regional security authorities; and approval from district and local Ministry of Religion authorities. Foreign missionaries who obtain visas are able to work relatively unimpeded, although there have been restrictions imposed in conflict areas such as Irian Jaya/Papua and the Moluccas. Foreign missionary work is subject to the funding stipulations of the Social Organizations Law.

There are no restrictions on religious publications, but the dissemination of these materials to persons of other faiths, especially by non-Muslims to Muslims, is not permitted under Ministry of Religion Decision No. 70/1978 and Joint Ministry of Religion/Ministry of Interior Decision No. 1/1979. Religious literature may be printed and religious symbols employed, but the public dissemination of these materials to persons of other faiths is not permitted according to Ministry of Religion Decision No. 70/1979. In previous years, the Government banned some books because of their religious content; however, there were no such reports during the period covered by this report.

The law does not discriminate against any religious group in employment, education, housing, and health; however, some minority groups allege that there is de facto discrimination that limits minority faith access to top government jobs and slots at public universities. Some minority groups also contend that promotion opportunities for non-Muslims in the military and the police are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain. There also is pressure by Muslim groups to accord the best positions to Muslims, the majority group. Vocal segments of the Muslim community have called for a form of affirmative action for "Islamic" civil servants and businessmen to correct the discrimination against them during the Soeharto regime, when a very small minority of Sino-Indonesians were given preferential economic treatment, and many politically active Muslims (or Islamicists) were discriminated against in access to civil service employment and business opportunities.

Ethnoreligious representation in the general officer corps generally is proportional to the religious affiliation of the population at large; Javanese Muslims (the largest single ethnic group) dominate, but Christians are well represented in the general officer ranks (perhaps reflecting generally higher educational standards among the Christian communities). However, promotion to the most senior ranks for Christians and other minorities is limited by a "glass ceiling." Many Christian officers complain openly about this glass ceiling.

Government employees must swear their allegiance to the nation and to the country's national ideology, Pancasila, the first tenet of which is the belief in one supreme God.

Elementary and secondary public schools require students to enroll in a religious studies class covering one of five official religions (Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, and Hinduism). Students are free to choose which of these five religions to study, but enrollment is mandatory. Interdenominational courses are not offered, although some interfaith groups are lobbying for inclusion of this option in the educational curriculum. There still are no courses on Confucianism in the public schools.

The Ministry of Religion through a joint Ministerial Decree issued in 1969 restricts the building and expansion of houses of worship and prohibits the use of private dwellings for worship unless a license is obtained from the regional office of the Ministry of Religion and the community approves. This decree has been used to prohibit the construction and expansion of churches and to justify the closure of churches in predominantly Muslim areas. Although these regulations apply to all recognized religions, minority--especially Protestant--groups claim that the law is enforced only on minority groups, and that minority groups have difficulty obtaining the proper licenses and permits to build houses of worship. Christians claim that the law is not enforced on Muslim communities, which often do not apply for the permits before constructing a mosque. Even when the proper permits are obtained, some Christian groups encounter difficulties in constructing or reconstructing churches. For example, during the period covered by this report a Muslim mob attacked and destroyed a Pentecostal church that was under construction in North Jakarta, even though the church had all the required permits. The local authorities did nothing to redress the situation or resolve the problem, except to suggest that the church be relocated elsewhere. In November 2000, the director of the local government Social-Political Affairs (Kakansospol) office on Lombok Island ordered the closure of eight churches in Mataram on the grounds that the churches had not obtained the proper permits, and the activities of the churches disturbed the peace in what were predominantly Muslim neighborhoods. Another church in West Jakarta was closed and ordered to move under the written instruction of the Governor of West Jakarta during the period covered by this report. The governor claimed that the presence of the church had disturbed Muslim neighbors, and that a youth group from a nearby mosque opposed the idea of having the church so close to the mosque (see Section III). In some cases, even when the building or expansion permits were obtained, Muslim mobs attacked the church grounds, forcing the Christian worshippers to close their building project (see Section III).

President Wahid has supported the implementation of Shari'a (Islamic law) in Aceh Province. Law 44/1999 on Special Autonomy for Aceh gives Aceh authority to apply Shari'a law in the province to religion, education, culture, civil law, and policy-making spheres. At the end of the period covered by this report, more comprehensive legislation (Special Autonomy for Aceh Nanggroe Darussalam) was under consideration in the parliament, the People's Representative Assembly (DPR). The bill would allow Aceh to establish a court system based on Shari'a law. Individuals sentenced under the new Acehnese Shari'a law would not have the right of appeal to the Supreme Court. The new law also would allow the Acehnese to restrict the freedom to choose one's religion; for example, Muslims would be forbidden to convert. Extreme sanctions, such as the amputation of limbs, are not mentioned in the draft, and President Wahid has assured the public that these types of sanctions would not be practiced. However, some Muslim scholars argue that there is nothing in the draft legislation that would forbid the application of Shari'a punishments (hudud) to any crimes. The Government also has assured the public that Shari'a law would not apply to non-Muslims in Aceh, but debate in the DPR continues over whether Shari'a law would apply to all Acehnese residents, or only to Muslims.

In light of the Government's decision to allow Aceh to apply aspects of Shari'a law and the implementation of national legislation granting greater regional autonomy (Law 22/1999 on Regional Autonomy and Presidential Decree 25/2000), a number of provincial parliaments were deliberating whether to impose Shari'a law in their provinces. In October 2000, Muslim leaders in South Sulawesi issued a statement that Muslims in the province were ready to accept Shari'a law, and they formed a committee (the KPPSI) to prepare for its implementation (see Section III). On April 24, 2001, the KPPSI issued the "Makassar Declaration" announcing the enactment of Shari'a law in South Sulawesi and forwarded the document to the DPR Chairman, Akbar Tandjung, for parliamentary consideration and approval. The declaration was pending at the end of the period covered by this report. Provincial legislatures in Banten (Java), Gorontolo (Sulawesi), Maluku, North Maluku, Riau (Sumatra), and South Kalimantan provinces also were considering implementation of Shari'a. A number of Christians and Muslim moderates have expressed serious concern that these efforts to implement Shari'a foreshadow a growing Islamic fundamentalism.

Marriage law for Muslims is based on Shari'a (Islamic law) and allows men to have up to four wives if the husband is able to provide equally for each of them. Court permission and the consent of the first wife is required, but reportedly most women cannot refuse subsequent marriages. Cabinet officials and military personnel customarily have been forbidden from taking second wives, although reportedly a few ministers in President Wahid's Cabinet have second wives. During 2000 Government Regulation 10/1983, which stipulates that a male civil servant must receive the permission of his superior to take a second wife, came under considerable attack and renewed scrutiny. The Minister of State for Women's Empowerment, Khofifah Indar Parawansa, proposed that the regulation be revoked or modified, arguing that supervisors often use the regulation as leverage over subordinates, and that the regulation is an embarrassment to women. She also asserted that many men avoid the regulation by establishing illicit relationships. Other women, including First Lady Sinta Nuriyah Abdurrahman Wahid, opposed revoking the regulation, arguing that it protects women. Some women's groups urged the Government to ban polygyny altogether.

In divorce cases, women often bear a heavier evidentiary burden than men in obtaining a divorce, especially in the Islamic-based family court system. Divorced women rarely receive alimony, and there is no enforcement of alimony payment. According to Shari'a, a divorced wife is entitled to only 3 months of alimony, and even alimony for this brief period is not always granted.

In some areas of the Moluccas where Islamic militia groups (Laskar Jihad) are in control, freedom of religion is restricted. Laskar Jihad militants have forced Christians in some areas of the Moluccas either to convert to Islam, leave the area, or be executed.

Abuses of Religious Freedom

Religious violence and the lack of an effective government response to punish perpetrators and prevent further attacks continued to lead to allegations that officials were complicit in some of the violence or, at a minimum, allowed it to occur with impunity. Although the President and other officials repeatedly have criticized instances of interreligious violence, the Government's efforts to end or reduce such violence generally continued to be ineffective. The Government at times has tolerated the abuse of freedom of religion, claiming that it does not have the capacity or authority to deal with the "emotions" of private individuals or groups who target others because of their beliefs.

According to credible reports, individual members of the security forces in the Moluccas, especially on the centrally located island of Ambon, were responsible for some of the shooting deaths that occurred during widespread riots and communal clashes throughout the period covered by this report (see Section III).

Witnesses testified to human rights groups of incidents when active duty and retired military personnel participated in or stood by during the torture or executions of Christians who refused to convert to Islam in the Moluccas. These incidents reportedly occurred during the period covered by this report in Ambon, Keswui, Buru, Seram and other parts of Maluku Province, as well as in February 2000 in Lata Lata, North Maluku Province. Witnesses and victims also testified to human rights organizations that active duty military and police officials stood by while members of one religious group raped or mutilated members of another faith. Mass forced conversions and circumcisions of Christians in the Moluccas occurred during the period covered by this report, and witnesses and victims alleged that active duty military and police personnel were present, but did nothing, during some of these incidents.

During the period covered by this report, there were reports of beatings of Christians by Muslim police officers and of Muslims by Christian police officers in Maluku Province. There also were reports of Muslim military personnel beating Christians in the Moluccas. For example, on October 16, 2000, in the Christian area of Susupu, Halmahera (North Maluku) the leader of the army unit stationed there allegedly hit a Christian leader in the head with a pistol, fired warning shots into the air, and threatened to kill him and other Christians if they did not cooperate with the security forces.

In the Moluccas, both Christians and Muslims alleged that police and military personnel were not always neutral and often sided with coreligionists in the communal conflict. In Maluku Province, Christian sources continued to allege that Muslim security forces often would fail to intervene to protect Christian areas that were attacked by Muslim militia. For example, predominantly Muslim units dispatched from Java and Sulawesi allegedly sided with Muslim vigilantes and used excessive force against Christians. In other instances, Muslims claimed that Christian security forces would not defend Muslim areas attacked by Christian militia. Muslims in Ambon claimed that members of the predominantly Christian police force sided with their coreligionists. However, there was no evidence to suggest that the security forces, as an institution, supported either group. Some individuals and some units occasionally sided with their coreligionists, but their actions appeared to be random and contrary to orders. On January 21 and 22, 2001, a joint military/police force created to deal with "rogue" police officers and militia members clashed with Muslims in Ambon, killing 10 Muslims, including three Muslims that had attacked a military patrol; two police officers also were killed. Muslim leaders criticized the joint force for acting in response to pressure by domestic and foreign Christians. Several hundred police officers themselves have been attacked, and some were killed because of their religion; hundreds of police members and their families and numerous other government officials are among the country's internally displaced persons (IDP's).

From July to November 2000, the Government largely was ineffective in deterring interreligious violence that led to over 1,000 deaths, thousands of injuries, and tens of thousands of displaced persons in the Moluccas. Enforcement of the law against criminal violence deteriorated, encouraging religious groups purporting to uphold public morality to act with growing impunity. In some incidents security forces took sides in the conflict and participated in the violence; in others the forces stood by while Christian and Muslim civilians battled one another. According to many Christian leaders, the anti-Christian sentiment behind the violence in the Moluccas and elsewhere is not new (see Section III), but the failure of the Government to punish the perpetrators associated with such acts is new. They claim that such impunity has contributed significantly to the continuation and spread of the violence. However, starting in December 2000, the security forces in Ambon started to act more objectively, often stemming attacks by one militant religious group against a civilian population of another faith. However, perpetrators--Laskar Jihad members in particular--rarely were detained and when they were, they typically were released after supporters rallied in demand of their release and threatened police. In addition the Government failed to suppress or respond to most cases of violence and did not resolve fully the many cases of attacks on religious facilities that occurred during riots. In many cases, the Government did not investigate such incidents at all.

Despite the imposition of a state of civil emergency in June 2000 and promises to deport all non-resident provocateurs, the Government failed to halt the violence in Maluku Province, largely because of weak local government leadership and interservice rivalry between elements of the security forces. In May and June 2001, there was renewed violence, incited by the continued presence and activity of armed militant Muslims from outside the province (see Section III). However, the situations in North Maluku and Central Sulawesi Provinces stabilized during the period covered by this report due in large part to effective local government leadership that enforced the ban on entry by outsiders and administered justice to the perpetrators. In February 2001, some Christians who had fled were resettled in their homes on Halmahera Island.

In February 2001, North Maluku Province authorities detained, questioned and then expelled three foreign Christian missionaries and several Muslim teachers of Pakistani nationality. The province was under a state of civil emergency at the time (and throughout the period covered by this report). The Governor required both foreign and domestic groups from outside the province to obtain prior permission to enter the province and forbade entry if he believed the presence of an outside group might trigger more sectarian violence.

In April 2001, local courts sentenced to death three Christian prisoners who were found guilty of killing hundreds of Muslims and inciting religious hatred in Poso, Central Sulawesi in May to June 2000. Confessions and evidence supported the prosecution's case that the three prisoners, who were Christian militia leaders, were guilty; however, the prisoners and some of their supporters alleged that the trials were religiously motivated because while they were sentenced to death, Muslim militia who had killed Christians and been arrested were released from detention under pressure from Muslim groups. In May 2001, a man was arrested in Luwu, Central Sulawesi for attempting to bomb three Christian churches.

There were no reports that the Government was directly involved in the forced resettlement of individuals because of their religious affiliations; however, the Government did urge many Christian and Muslim IDP's in the Moluccas to relocate temporarily to designated IDP camps or other facilities. The Government's urging of IDP's to relocate to safer areas is standard policy and appears to have been driven by concerns for IDP safety and welfare. Victims and witnesses reported that some active duty and retired military and police stood by while militia groups forced non-coreligionists out of their communities if they were unwilling to convert. Most of the incidents involved Muslim militia expelling Christians; however, there also were some reports of Christian militia expelling Muslims from certain areas (on Halmahera Island, North Maluku, and on Saparua Island, Maluku).

There were no reports of religious prisoners or detainees.

The police made some effort to crack down on radical Islamic groups conducting sweeps and raids from October to December 2000 (see Section III). But police were reluctant to appear anti-Islamic and the efforts were halfhearted and largely ineffective. There were no reports of any of the perpetrators being tried for assault and vandalism, and most raids on nightspots went unchecked. Bowing to the sensitivities of a growing number of increasingly vocal Muslims, many city governments including Jakarta's, ordered night clubs, bars, and other entertainment centers to close down during the Ramadhan holy season from November to December 2000 as well as during other Muslim religious holidays.

The Laskar Jihad ("holy war troops"), which formed in 2000 and underwent paramilitary training, continued its crusade against the Moluccan Christian populations, allegedly in reaction to a Christian conspiracy to turn Maluku Province into an independent Christian nation. Many of its recruits, some of whom were children, were deployed to Maluku and North Maluku Provinces beginning in late April 2000, where they reportedly joined in fighting against Christians. The Government generally failed to prevent their activities.

In July 2000, the acting governor of North Maluku started expelling militant Laskar Jihad troops from the province. However, the governor of Maluku took no similar action, claiming that it was the responsibility of Jakarta to order the expulsion of the militants. A major factor contributing to the continuation of violence in these two provinces was the failure of the Government and security forces to bring the perpetrators to justice or to prevent (and then deport) several thousand armed Laskar Jihad militants from Java who had joined forces with Muslims in various parts of the two provinces (see Section III).

On May 5, 2001, the Laskar Jihad leader in Maluku Province accused the Indonesian National Police (INP) of detaining him under false charges when he was arrested for having ordered the execution by stoning of a member of the Laskar Jihad found guilty of rape and adultery. In his defense, he asserted that he was within his rights to follow Shari'a law, not national criminal law, in this case. The police rejected his defense and, as of June 30, 2001, were investigating the case.

On Christmas Eve 2000, unknown terrorists bombed or attempted to bomb 34 Christian churches in 10 cities in 8 provinces and special districts. Nineteen citizens died from the blasts, including Muslims guarding the churches, and 84 persons were injured. The Government formed a special interagency team to investigate the bombings, and the NGO Indonesian Forum for Peace (FID) formed a joint factfinding team with the Government to investigate the Christmas Eve church bombings. On June 28, 2001, the Bandung District Court sentenced Agus Kurniawan to 9 years in prison for his role in the bombings. Another suspect also was on trial for involvement in the bombings at the end of the period covered by this report. President Wahid and various religious leaders publicly stated their belief that the coordinated bombings were politically, not religiously, motivated to destabilize the country and undermine Wahid's government and reform efforts.

Forced Religious Conversion

According to multiple sources, including direct testimony from victims and witnesses in early 2001, thousands of Christians underwent forced conversions in the Moluccas from December 1999 to January 2001. There also were several hundred Muslims forced to convert to Christianity in North Maluku and Maluku Provinces in early to mid-2000. President Wahid conceded in late December that hundreds of Christians on Keswui and Teor Islands in Maluku converted to Islam in November and December 2000 to save their lives. By February 2001, over 700 converts had been able to leave the 2 islands. There also have been credible reports of forced conversions occurring in other parts of Ambon/Maluku and North Maluku (see Section II). Estimates range from over 3,500 to 8,000 cases. Many of these conversions, especially those in North Maluku, occurred in early 2000; however, confirmation of the conversions was not available until late 2000 and early 2001. For example, on Keswui and Teor Islands in Maluku Province, hundreds of Christians converted to Islam in November and December 2000 under threat of execution. While most documented cases involve Christians who converted to Islam, there have been reports of Muslims who were forced to convert to Christianity in Halmahera, North/Maluku (Lata Lata, Bacan). There is credible evidence that 200 to 800 Muslims were forced to convert to Christianity in the Moluccas. Many of these conversions occurred during the period covered by this report.

There were allegations that local government officials, largely village heads, were complicit in some of the mass conversions. The governor of Maluku Province argued that most persons only were "pressed" and not coerced to convert.

Christian IDP's from Keswui and Teor who had undergone conversion said in media interviews that Muslim militants ordered Christians to convert to Islam or face probable death at the hands of Muslim militias. According to these sources, Christians were forced into mosques and converted to Islam en masse. Both male and female converts later were forced to undergo circumcision to prove that they were genuine Muslims, despite the fact that Muslim women in the Moluccas were not customarily circumcised. The victims suffered considerable pain and some developed infections as a result of the forced circumcisions.

There were no reports of the forced religious conversion of minor U.S. citizens who had been abducted or illegally removed from the United States, or of the Government's refusal to allow such citizens to be returned to the United States.

Improvements in Respect for Religious Freedom

On June 1, 2001, the Government lifted the 24-year-old ban on Jehovah's Witnesses; this step toward greater respect for religious freedom and diversity continued an earlier trend when, in the previous reporting period, the Government lifted the ban on Confucianism and the Baha'i Faith (see Section II).

In late 2000, the Falun Gong obtained a license to operate as a social organization in the country, and Falun Gong members practiced freely without government interference.

During the period covered by this report, Gadja Mada University in Yogyakarta, with the assistance of other local universities and institutes, opened a graduate level program on comparative religion. Courses on Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Confucianism are taught. State-run institutes of Islamic religion offer undergraduate comparative religion programs, but most of the lecturers are Muslims.

Government officials took steps to address the deterioration of religious tolerance in the country and the rise in sectarian violence along religious lines. During the period covered by this report, Government officials and domestic NGO's assisted the U.S. Embassy in bringing Moluccan Christian and Muslim victims of forced conversion to Jakarta to testify (see Section IV). Indonesian government officials also participated in a U.S. Embassy-sponsored digital videoconference on Religious Freedom in a Democracy.

Section III: Societal Attitudes

Religious intolerance, especially on the part of extreme Muslims towards religious minorities, including Christians, increasingly was evident and became a matter of growing concern to many religious minority members and Muslim moderates. There was continued interreligious violence in the Moluccas, and religious intolerance also manifested itself in numerous attacks on churches in various locations throughout the country.

Citizens generally tend to identify themselves and to interact with others on the basis of ethnicity, religion, race, or social class, and civil society is in a very nascent stage. The country is a multiethnic, multireligious society that, historically, has experienced outbursts of religious intolerance and violence.

The economic crisis that began in mid-1997 and continued through the period covered by this report, severely affected millions of citizens, pushing many below the poverty line and reversing the gains of the newly emerging middle class. With the weakening of central leadership and control--Soeharto stepped down in May 1998--ethnically and religiously based communal conflict reemerged in the late 1990's. In 1997 ethnic/religious conflict broke out in West Kalimantan, and the tempo of violence increased after 1998, breaking out and continuing in pockets all over the archipelago (e.g., the Moluccas, Java, Kalimantan, Sumatra, Lombok, Irian Jaya/Papua, and Sulawesi); this violence continued during the period covered by this report. Most of the violence was attributable to unaddressed grievances and frustration with arbitrary central government development and migration policies that had, in many areas, upset delicate ethnic and religious balances. In the absence of a healthy civil society and democratic culture to arbitrate differences peacefully, this frustration was provoked easily and often took the form of extrajudicial violence under the banner of an ethnic/religious crusade. Despite the Government's general religious tolerance, it was unable to stop the sectarian violence or rein in religious extremism, particularly for the Muslim majority.

In the Moluccas, over 1,500 persons were killed, half a million internally displaced, and thousands forced to convert to another faith, largely because of their religious affiliation. While the underlying causes of the conflict were attributable largely to unresolved grievances and resentment over the distribution of economic and political power between local residents and more recently arrived migrants, the competition quickly took on religious overtones and resulted in the segregation and displacement along religious lines of the population in both provinces. A major factor contributing to the continuation of violence in these two provinces was the failure of the Government and security forces to bring the perpetrators to justice, and to prevent the influx of or deport several thousand armed Muslim militants (Laskar Jihad) from Java who joined forces with Muslims in various parts of the two provinces (see Section II). The presence of these outside forces hindered local reconciliation efforts and peaceful resolution of the conflict. While in the previous reporting period, the victims were divided approximately equally between Christians and Muslims, most of the 1,500 victims during the period covered by this report were Christians.

The Government failed to halt the violence in Maluku Province. Religious violence and the lack of an effective government response to punish perpetrators and prevent further attacks led to allegations that officials were complicit in some of the incidents or, at a minimum, allowed them to occur with impunity (see Section II). In May and June 2001, there was renewed violence, particularly in the area of Poso in Central Sulawesi, which resulted in numerous deaths and widespread destruction. The violence was engendered by the continued presence and activity of armed militant Muslims from outside the province. However, the situations in North Maluku and Central Sulawesi Provinces stabilized by the end of the period covered by this report largely due to effective local government leadership (see Section II).

There were numerous attacks on churches and some attacks on mosques in various locations throughout the country, ranging from minor damage to total destruction; only a few cases, if any, were investigated thoroughly, and there were no reports of perpetrators being punished (see Section II). According to the Indonesian Christian Communication Forum, from January 1999 to April 2001, 327 churches were closed or destroyed, while the Ministry of Religion reports that 254 mosques were attacked or destroyed during the same period. Most of the attacks and destruction occurred in the Moluccas. From July 1, 2000 to May 31, 2001, there were 108 reported incidents of destruction of churches (compared to 163 incidents reported in the previous period) including 21 attacks on churches in Java; 20 in Sumatra, 10 in Lombok; 9 in South, Central, and Southeast Sulawesi; and 5 in North Sumatra (Medan).

In late May 2001, three churches in Pasuruan, East Java were attacked by mobs who allegedly were supporters of President Wahid and the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) Muslim organization. NU leaders and President Wahid denied that NU members were responsible and ordered the police to investigate. Authorities charged 2 persons with attacking churches and 132 persons with rioting.

Attacks on mosques in the conflict-torn Moluccas continued. The Maluku provincial government reported that four mosques had been attacked or destroyed during the period covered by this report, while the North Maluku provincial government reported no attacks on mosques during the same time period. On May 30, 2001, a mob of allegedly pro-President Wahid supporters associated with the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) torched a mosque associated with rival Muhammadiyah followers in Pasuruan, East Java. On May 22, 2001, a mob of 400 persons vandalized the retreat of Jamaah Salamulla (an Islamic group) in Bogor, West Java (see Section II).

Attacks on places of worship reflect religious intolerance, but other contributing factors include general underlying socioeconomic and political competition and tensions. Non-Muslims in general--and Sino-Indonesians in particular--tend to be economically better off than the majority of Muslims. Similarly in the Moluccas, Central Sulawesi, Irian Jaya/Papua and Kalimantan, economic tensions between local or native peoples (predominantly non-Muslim) and more recently arrived migrants (predominantly Muslim) were a significant factor in incidents of interreligious and interethnic violence.

Islam is undergoing a renaissance in the country, as evidenced by a growing number of religious schools (pesantrens), mosques, banks and other businesses, civic groups, media outlets, and political parties associated with Islam (see Section II). According to a 1999 study released by the U.S. Department of State in Fall 2000, approximately 75 percent of the country's Muslims wanted Islam to play a very large role in society and government policy, and 54 percent wanted religious leaders to become more politically active. There are 15 Islamic political parties; Muslims continued to seek greater political empowerment and economic opportunity through these political parties as well as through religious organizations. The number of stores selling Islamic attire and religious objects increased greatly during the period covered by this report; more women donned the head covering, the "jilbab". Since the early 1990's, a growing number of Muslims have undertaken the Hajj. In 2001 approximately 205,000 persons (or 24,000 more than in 2000) made the pilgrimage, despite the continuing economic crisis in the country. The Islamic publication, Sabili, which advocates obligatory adherence of Muslims to Shari'a law, was one of the country's top five magazines in circulation during the period covered by this report.

In general Islam in the country traditionally has been moderate. According to leading Muslim scholars and leaders, the Muslim community still is predominantly (80 percent) moderate; however, with the removal of Soeharto-era restrictions on religious organization and expression, there has been a resurgence--or a greater vocalization--of advocacy for an Islamic state. An estimated 20 percent of the country's Muslims consider themselves to be fundamentalists and advocate establishment of an Islamic state, which would make it obligatory for Muslims to follow Shari'a law. The majority of these Muslims (16 to 18 percent) pursue their goal through peaceful political and educational means. A small, but vocal minority (2 to 4 percent) condones coercive measures and has resorted to violence. Fundamentalist groups advocating coercion and resorting to violence include: Laskar Jihad, Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), Hizbullah Front, Laskar Mujahidan, and the Campus Association of Muslim Students (HAMMAS). Many of the country's religious minorities expressed growing concern over what they perceived to be increasing demands by certain Muslim groups to impose Shari'a law in the country; however, during the period covered by this report, a proposal to implement Islamic law failed (see Section II).

Anti-Christian sermons and publications continued during the period covered by this report. In the early part of 2000, a movement known as the Islamic State of Indonesia (NII) emerged on university campuses in Java. There were sporadic reports from some Jakarta neighborhoods that student followers of the NII movement set up roadblocks, checked identification cards, and harassed passing non-Muslims, in some cases forcing them to recite passages from the Koran. Similar incidents occurred in Makassar, South Sulawesi. In October 2000, Muslim students attacked several hotels allegedly operating prostitution and gambling businesses in Riau Province.

In December 2000, over 500 armed Laskar Jihad militants attacked cafes in Solo and demanded that they close during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadhan. Also in December 2000, the Laskar Hizbullah raided a number of nightspots in an elite Jakarta neighborhood. In early May 2001, radical Muslim groups raided a number of bookshops in urban areas of Java and Sulawesi and destroyed books that they claimed had Communist content, even books whose authors criticized Communism. Protests from Islamic groups prompted a publisher to remove books by the religious philosopher Anand Krishna from bookstores. Extremist Muslim groups also targeted cultural events, including art exhibits, and homosexual gatherings.

Some radical Islamic groups established vice squads to monitor the behavior of other Muslims and to punish errant behavior. One such group, the Anti-Vice Mass Movement (GMAM) kidnaped and tortured two police officials in Makassar, South Sulawesi for the police officials' alleged involvement in gambling and prostitution activities. Non-Muslims also were the targets of violence. Roadblocks manned by Muslim morality squads who check the religious identities of passersby continued to operate in the Makassar area. There were reports of some non-Muslims being detained and beaten by these squads.

Political tensions among Muslim groups became more intense during the period covered by this report, in particular between the 2 largest Muslim social organizations, the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), which has 40 million members, and Muhammadiyah, which has 35 million members. NU is associated politically with President Wahid, its former chairman, while Muhammadiyah is associated politically with Amien Rais, a former chairman of the organization and now chairman of the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the speaker of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR). During the first 6 months of 2001, NU supporters, enraged by Rais' calls for the impeachment of Wahid, attacked and damaged Muhammadiyah offices and other properties, including a mosque frequented by Muhammadiyah followers, in Central and East Java.

Muslim student groups also are divided along political lines. The Muslim Students' Action Front (KAMMI), the Association of Islamic Students (HMI), and the Intercampus Muslim Student Association (HAMMAS) opposed President Wahid and called for his removal or resignation. On the other hand, the Muslim Student's Movement (PMII), which is affiliated with NU, supported Wahid.

Some prominent Muslim interfaith organizations also were in part divided along political affiliations. Many of the Muslim members of the Indonesian Committee on Religion and Peace (ICRP) were affiliated with Muhammadiyah and some opposed the continuation of President Wahid's presidency, while many of the Muslim members of the Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace (also ICRP) were NU supporters and proPresident Wahid.

Many Muslim moderates worried that minority extremist groups potentially could force their will on the country's moderate Muslim majority and erode the country's religious harmony. In December 2000, more than 70 Muslim clerics and 17 NGO leaders issued a letter to the police calling the raids and sweepings of pubs, hotels, and amusement centers "intolerable acts" and giving their support to police efforts to stem the raids. A coalition of media, human rights groups, students, legal scholars and literary figures (the Alliance for Freedom of Thought and Expression) condemned the book seizures in May 2001. But only one Islamic organization, the Muhammadiyah Youth Association (IRM), joined the public condemnation. In May 2001, the Attorney General announced a government prohibition on sweeping operations, and the Minister of Religion noted that such operations conflicted with religious teachings.

Muslims are a religious minority in the easternmost province of Irian Jaya/Papua. The arrival in the province of mainly Muslim migrants from other parts of the country has in the past led to attacks on mosques; however, there were no reports of attacks on mosques in Irian Jaya/Papua during the period covered by this report.

Muslim and Christian observers expressed concern over what they believed was an increase in Christian fundamentalist groups in the country, some of which were influenced and partially funded by foreign groups from other countries. Some observers maintain that leaders of these "Charismatic" Christian groups were aggressive proselytizers, who did not respect the sensitivities of the country's Muslim majority. When radical Muslim groups alleged that there was a foreign Christian conspiracy to destabilize the country by attacking Muslims, moderate Muslim and Christian religious leaders and intellectuals claimed that they were referring to these groups.

Some extremist religious leaders--both Muslim and Christian--preached hatred against other religious groups and encouraged their followers to engage in violence against persons of other faiths. Speaking at mosques and on the radio, the Laskar Jihad leader stationed in Ambon/Maluku ordered Muslims to launch a Jihad against non-believers--Christians--and to kill them if need be. Other local Moluccan Muslim leaders threatened to kill Muslims who tried to make peace or do business with Christians. Some extreme Christian leaders reportedly encouraged their followers to use violence against Muslims. Both sides argued that they were acting out of self-defense, and that the opposing side had started the cycle of violence.

Members of the mainstream Hindu community, represented by the Pansada Hindu Dharma, reported no incidents where followers were discriminated against or harassed; however, some Hindus objected strongly to the use of sacred Hindu words and symbols in the secular world of advertising. In January 2001, the Peradah Hindu Youth Association lodged a formal complaint against a motorcycle company that had used the names Rama, Vishnu, and Krishna for their line of motorcycles.

Some mainstream Balinese Hindus opposed the presence of Hare Krishna in Bali and pressed the local public prosecutor's office to reinforce a local ban on Hare Krishna (see Section II). Hare Krishna followers strongly oppose the Balinese Hindu tradition of sacrificing meat during their ceremonies, one of a number of ritual differences between the two Hindu groups.

Members of the Baha'i Faith did not report major problems since the lifting of the ban on their religious practice (see Section II); however, in early May 2001, a crowd of Muslims reportedly ousted two Baha'i families living in a predominantly Muslim village in the Donggala District of Central Sulawesi. The local branch of the Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI) issued a religious decree (fatwa) banning the spread of the Baha'i Faith in the district.

During the period covered by this report, there were a number of reports of killings of persons who practice traditional magic--"dukun santet"--based in part on indigenous preIslamic "Aliran Kepercayaan" and "Kebatinan" belief systems. Police acknowledged in November 2000 that at least 20 villagers in the Cianjur area of West Java had been executed for allegedly practicing traditional magic. Police arrested 20 persons suspected of involvement in the killings. However, none of the cases had come to trial by the end of the period covered by this report.

During the period covered by this report, interfaith organizations grew, and their activities enjoyed some media coverage. The Indonesian Peace Forum (FID) formed immediately following the December 24, 2000 church bombings, and brought together moderate leaders from all of the country's major religions. FID leaders, many of them prominent Muslims, deplored the attacks on the churches, called for a thorough government investigation, and formed their own investigative team. FID also sponsored a number of events to foster religious respect and end interreligious, ethnic, and separatist conflicts.

Other active interfaith groups include the Society for Interreligious Dialog (MADIA); the Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace (ICRP); the Indonesian Committee on Religion and Peace (also ICRP); the Institute for Interfaith Dialogue (Interfidei); and the Institute of Gender and Religious Studies. During the period covered by this report, these and other similar organizations hosted numerous national and regional seminars to promote interfaith dialog and religious tolerance. In November 2000, the two ICRP organizations announced plans to host an Asia-wide Conference on Religion and Peace. In December 2000, Interfidei held an interdenominational forum on Religion and National Integration in Yogyakarta, and in February 2001, the national chapter of the World Committee of Churches held an Interfaith Youth Conference in North Sulawesi. One of the Muslim panelists attributed the religious intolerance to the incorrect teaching of religion in the country.

Section IV: U.S. Government Policy

The U.S. Embassy/Consulate General Surabaya and visiting State Department officials regularly engaged Indonesian government officials (particularly in the Ministry of Religion and the State Secretariat) on religious freedom issues and also encouraged officials from other embassies to discuss the subject with the Indonesian Government. U.S. Embassy/Consulate General Surabaya officials focused many of these discussions on the deterioration of religious freedom in the Moluccas. U.S. government officials expressed serious concern over the forced conversions of Christians and Muslims in the Moluccas and encouraged Indonesian government officials and Indonesian NGO leaders to hear the testimony of victims of forced conversion and to lobby to bring action against the perpetrators of such acts (see Section III). Some of these interventions appeared in local press accounts. The Embassy also voiced support for the Government's decision to lift its ban on Jehovah's Witnesses.

The U.S. Embassy/Consulate General Surabaya, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), local NGO's, and others pressed Ambon/Maluku government officials to evacuate forced conversion victims from Teor and Keswui Islands in January 2001 (see Section II). Embassy/Consulate General Surabaya and USAID officials were partly successful in their encouragement of moderate Moluccan Muslims and Christians to seek ways--through the Baku Bae movement and other initiatives--to end the violence and to work jointly to rebuild the war-torn provinces.

U.S. Embassy/Consulate General Surabaya officials regularly met with religious leaders to discuss the importance of religious freedom and tolerance and to encourage interreligious efforts to mitigate the sectarian conflict in the Moluccas and to combat religious intolerance in many parts of the country.

U.S. Embassy and USAID officials worked with Indonesian and international NGO's to develop methods to mitigate religious conflict and to combat religious intolerance. The U.S. Embassy and USAID worked with Indonesian interfaith NGO's, such as the Society for Interreligious Dialog (MADIA), the Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace (ICRP), the Indonesian Committee on Religion and Peace (also ICRP), and the Institute for Interfaith Dialog (Interfidei). They also met with Indonesian and international human rights groups and with the National Human Rights Commission (KOMNASHAM) and its branch in Ambon in the Maluku Province.

The U.S. Embassy promoted religious tolerance through public affairs, exchange, and training programs and engagement with Indonesian officials and religious and NGO leaders. State Department and USAID funding was used to promote religious freedom, tolerance, and conflict resolution. U.S. Embassy/Consulate General Surabaya officials identified and assisted several Indonesians to testify on religious freedom before the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and advised the USCIRF of potential issues. The U.S. Embassy served as a liaison between the U.S. Government, Congress and Indonesian government officials on religious freedom issues and advocated U.S. government positions on areas of concern. In May 2001, over 170 Indonesians (government officials and NGO representatives) attended a U.S. Embassy-sponsored digital videoconference on Religious Freedom and Tolerance in a Democracy in May 2001. Religious freedom and tolerance also was one of the three themes addressed during the annual Fulbright seminar held in May 2001 in Bali. The Embassy/U.S.-Indonesian Fulbright Foundation (AMINEF) provided expertise and equipment (a virtual library on comparative religion) to help establish the country's first graduate-level program on comparative religion at Gadja Mada University in Yogyakarta (see Section II).

In late June 2001, the U.S. Embassy arranged for a U.S. speaker on religious freedom to visit Indonesia. The speaker participated in an interreligious conference in Jakarta and began teaching a 5-week course at Gadja Mada University in Yogyakarta, which was ongoing at the end of the period, covered by this report. The U.S. Embassy also supported a conference on religious freedom in South Sulawesi from June 1 to 4, 2001. Indonesians participated in International Visitor and USAID programs related to religious and ethnic tolerance and conflict resolution. Two U.S. Fulbright scholars lectured and conducted research in comparative religion at Gadja Mada University in Yogyakarta, Central Java and at the State Institute of Islamic Studies (IAIN) in Jakarta. The U.S. Embassy sponsored two workshops for domestic media on how to report on conflict and how to encourage conflict resolution. The U.S. Embassy and USAID also worked with The Asia Foundation and IAIN to develop a new course that will look at Indonesia's national doctrine, Pancasila; and will stress tolerance and respect for human rights. The U.S. Embassy funded the printing of 16,000 copies of the new textbook for the course.

USAID funded international and domestic NGO's promoting religious tolerance, conflict resolution, and truth and reconciliation. USAID and U.S. Embassy support for the Muslim-Christian Joint Committee on the Moluccas (Baku Bae) was instrumental in advancing grassroots efforts to mitigate the conflict and to find constructive solutions benefiting both religious communities. In March 2001, USAID also supported a 3-day conference on the Moluccas conflict in southeast Maluku province. Muslim and Christian grassroots, religious, and community leaders attended the meetings and agreed to take joint steps to end the sectarian violence in the region.

USAID and the U.S. Embassy supported local NGO and Indonesian government efforts to bring victims of forced conversions to Jakarta to testify before human rights organizations and Indonesian government officials. USAID-funded public service announcements promoting interfaith tolerance aired on major commercial and government television stations from January to March 2001. USAID also funded a number of interfaith conflict resolution workshops for journalists and religious and grassroots leaders to address the sectarian conflicts in the Moluccas and Central Sulawesi.  



Back to Top
Sign-in

Do you already have an account on one of these sites? Click the logo to sign in and create your own customized State Department page. Want to learn more? Check out our FAQ!

OpenID is a service that allows you to sign in to many different websites using a single identity. Find out more about OpenID and how to get an OpenID-enabled account.