Sen's daily

November 6, 2014

Indonesia to issue ID cards for Bahais and other minorities,

Jakarta Globe and Jakarta Post, November 6, 2014.

Following the July announcement of Indonesia’s Religious Affairs Minster Lukman Hakim Saifuddin that “Baha’i is a religion, not a sect,” the Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo said on Thursday that he intended to allow the followers of religions not formally recognized by the state to leave the religion field on their identity cards blank. Previously, Baha’is and followers of local and tribal beliefs had to enter one of Indonesia’s six recognized faiths if they wanted to receive an ID card. Indonesia recognizes only Buddhism, Catholicism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam and Protestantism. The Home Affairs Minister also said he will summon regional leaders whose administrations continue to ignore cases of injustice against people from minority faiths, and will work with Police authorities to seek a permanent end to religious discrimination. He had previously called for the scrapping of local ordinances used to justify discrimination against minority groups.

“Indonesia is not a country based on any one religion. It is a country that is founded on the 1945 Constitution, which recognizes and protects all faiths,” Tjahjo said during a meeting with representatives of minority groups, including the Bahais, at his office in Central Jakarta, on Wednesday. Speaking after the meeting, Sheila Soraya from the Baha’i National Spiritual Assembly said she was convinced that Baha’is as well as members of religious minorities in the country could soon see an easing of their plight. “He [Tjahjo] was very attentive in listening to our stories. He was not defensive. That’s the most important thing,” Sheila told The Jakarta Post. She hopes that the new government will soon guarantee the civil rights of members of the Baha’i community, who still struggle to access basic social services.

“Birth certificates register our children as having been born out of wedlock. It only mentions the name of the mother and not the father. This has put us in a difficult situation when we have to register our children at school,” Sheila said.

Tjahjo’s position that the “religion” section may be left blank is a workaround that could allow practitioners of minority faiths to receive documentation without having to lie about their beliefs. But if Lukman and Tjahjo continue to advocate a looser policy on religious recognition, they could be on a collision course with some of Indonesia’s powerful Sunni Muslim organizations. Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) deputy secretary Amirsyah Tambunan has previously said that the Baha’i should not be granted official status, and few of the archipelago’s Islamic scholars have given any indication that they would accept recognition of the Ahmadiyah, whose Indonesian followers have been repeatedly subject to discrimination and, on occasion, murder by rampaging mobs. [The Shiah Muslims, not mentioned here, also suffer discrimination ~Sen]

A report in Kompas said that the Director General of Civil Registrations at the Home Affairs Ministry had opened discussions with the MUI and the country’s largest Islamic organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, on the issue of official recognition for other religions.

Short link: http://wp.me/pNMoJ-297

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