Sen's daily

July 26, 2014

Indonesia’s Religious Affairs Minister Supports State Recognition of Baha’i Religion

Jakarta Globe, July 25, 2014 [update August 3]

Indonesia’s new religious affairs Minister has indicated that the Bahai religion should be the seventh religion to be recognized by Indonesia as an official faith. “Baha’i is a religion, not a sect,” Lukman Saifuddin tweeted from his Twitter account on Thursday. “There are 220 believers in Banyuwangi, 100 in Jakarta, 100 in Medan, 98 in Surabaya, 80 in Palopo, 50 in Bandung, 30 in Malang and in other regions.”

He made the comment as a result of a letter sent by the Home Affairs Ministry requesting clarification about the religion. “I told [the Home Affairs Ministry] that Baha’i is a religion protected by articles 28E and 29 in the Constitution,” Mr. Saifuddin said.

He added that adherents of the faith should be entitled to identify themselves as such on their national identity cards — and that recognition would make it easier to obtain necessary documentation, such as driver licenses, birth certificates, marriage certificates and land deeds.

Some local governments take a hard line against minorities in Indonesia by holding up various permits to individuals if they do not select one of the six religions recognized by Indonesia — Islam, Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Confucianism and Hinduism.

The deputy secretary of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) Amirsyah Tambunan called Bahi’a a sect and said it should not be recognized.

The Minister’s statement has led to numerous articles on the Bahai Faith appearing on the internet. Din Syamsuddin, the general chairman of Indonesia’s second-largest Islamic organization, the Muhammadiyah, has responded with a call for the Indonesian government to protect the followers and the Bahai faith in line with the constitution. However he did not advocate equal rights and freedoms for the Ahmadiyyeh minority in Indonesia. (see the Antara News report, Sunday August 3, 2014)

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