Editorial: Protect All Citizens Equally

By : Jakarta Globe | on 7:51 PM July 22, 2015
Category : Opinion, Editorial

As a nation, Indonesia has one major piece of unfinished business: providing a solid, unshaken and irreversible foundation for pluralism to flourish across the archipelago.

While our constitution firmly adopts the basic principles needed to support a pluralistic society, we are still far removed from implementing this way of life on a daily basis throughout the country.

The biggest tragedy is that it is the government and the state that are the biggest violators of the constitution in this regard. State officials — presidents, ministers, police officers — have long placed the protection of minority groups at the bottom of their priority list, if at all being taken into consideration.

The recent incident in Tolikara can't be seen as an isolated case. It should be viewed in the light of accumulated problems arising from the state's systematic negligence in tackling violence, radicalism and religious extremism.

The religious intolerance in some parts of our society is just the tip of the iceberg. Groups like the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), to name one example, have been freely roaming the archipelago while launching attacks in the name of religion and thus taking the law into their own hands. No Indonesian government since the fall of the authoritarian New Order regime has been able to stop this.

Vigilantism, radicalism and extremism are like contagious diseases. Once they are allowed to gain a foothold, they will spread. Others will copy the behavior and the situation will be out of control sooner rather than later.

Minority groups, such as the Ahmadiyah, will always be the first to suffer if the state fails to act. Targeted minorities will continue to live in fear in their own country if the government fails to fulfill its most important constitutional obligation: to protect all citizens equally.

That is why we call on President Joko Widodo to quickly provide protection to Ahmadis and other minorities under siege across Indonesia. It is never too late to act, especially when people's lives are at stake.

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