Editorial: Religious Inclusivity Must Be Applauded

JUNE 17, 2015

Indonesia’s reputation as a religiously tolerant nation where the majority of its population are moderate Muslims has been gravely tarnished by news that terrorist groups are currently operating within the archipelago and that some of its citizens have joined the Islamic State, or continue to attack minorities such as Shiite and Ahmadiyah communities.

Those who previously believed that Indonesia is a peace-loving nation now question its level of moderation and religious tolerance.

President Joko Widodo and Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin have appealed to the public to show respect to one another as the holy and peaceful month of Ramadan approaches. During this time, Muslims are urged to take the opportunity to show that Indonesia is indeed an example of one of the world’s largest pluralist and religiously tolerant nations.

Despite the opportunity to do so, certain groups, clerics and politicians in Indonesia continue to justify violence in the name of Islam in order to gain popularity and serve their own interests. Certain radical groups go even further by threatening minority groups, believing they will receive greater blessings from God if they conduct the attacks during the holy season.

Such examples of violence have given Islam and Muslims in Indonesia a bad reputation. As a tolerant nation that practices Islam peacefully, this is not the behavior to show.

Moderate Muslims who have remained silent on the issue must condemn any act of violence. It is necessary to show the world that the groups who perform such acts of violence do not constitute the majority of Muslims in Indonesia, who practice Islam peacefully. The government must take a tough stance against these groups and protect its reputation as a religiously toleration nation.