Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
July 30, 2012

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Executive SummaryShare    

The constitution protects religious freedom, but some laws and regulations restrict religious freedom. While the government generally respected the freedom of the six officially recognized religions, there was some deterioration in the protection of the right to religious freedom during the year. There were several significant lapses in enforcing protections. While the central government holds authority over religious matters, it failed to overturn a number of local regulations or decrees restricting rights provided for in the constitution. Local governments placed restrictions on nonrecognized religious groups and on some groups considered “deviant.” Members of religious groups outside of the six officially recognized religions also continued to experience some official discrimination in the context of civil registration of marriages and births as well as in the issuance of identity cards. During the year, more than 26 regional governments enacted restrictions on the Ahmadiyya religious group. The government failed to enforce a Supreme Court decision in favor of a construction permit for the Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) Yasmin church in Bogor, West Java, allowing the mayor of Bogor to ignore the court’s decision. The government failed to prevent attacks and combat discrimination against religious groups by nonstate actors. In some cases it failed to hold the perpetrators of violence accountable.

There was an increase in reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice. Some hardline Muslim groups opposed to religious pluralism engaged in violent activity against other religious groups and activities deemed contradictory to their view of Islamic values. On February 6, a group of over one thousand people attacked a community of Ahmadis in Cikeusik, Banten Province, leaving three dead and five injured. Police present at the scene failed to intervene during the attack. Some hardline Muslim groups used violence and intimidation to close churches and other houses of worship, some of which were unregistered with the government as required by law. Some of these houses of worship remained closed at the end of the year.

The U.S. government regularly discussed religious freedom with government and civil society leaders as part of its overall policy to promote human rights. The embassy promoted religious freedom and tolerance through exchanges and civil society development programs, and devoted a significant portion of its public outreach and cultural programming to messaging that emphasizes respecting diversity and religious freedom.

Section I. Religious DemographyShare    

According to the 2010 census, the most recent available, approximately 87 percent of the population is Muslim, 7 percent Protestant, 3 percent Roman Catholic, and 1.5 percent Hindu. Other religions (Buddhism, followers of traditional indigenous religions, Confucianism, other Christian denominations, and those that did not respond to the census question) comprise approximately 1.25 percent of the population.

Muslims in the country are overwhelmingly Sunni. Of the more than 207 million Muslims in the country, there is an estimated one to three million Shia Muslims. Many smaller Muslim organizations exist, including approximately 200,000-400,000 persons who subscribe to the Ahmadiyya Qadiyani interpretation of Islam. A smaller group, known as Ahmadiyya Lahore, is also present. Other small Islamic minorities include al-Qiyadah al-Islamiya, Darul Arqam, Jamaah Salamulla (Salamulla Congregation), and members of the Indonesian Islamic Propagation Institute.

Some indigenous religious groups, including the “Naurus” on Seram Island in Maluku Province, incorporate Hindu and animist beliefs, and many have also adopted some Protestant teachings.

The country has a small Sikh population, estimated at between 10,000 and 15,000, residing primarily in Medan and Jakarta.

An estimated 20 million persons, primarily in Java, Kalimantan, and Papua, practice various traditional belief systems, often referred to collectively as “Aliran Kepercayaan.” Many combine their beliefs with one of the government-recognized religions and register under that recognized religion.

There are small Jewish communities in Jakarta and Surabaya. The Baha’i community reported thousands of members, but no reliable figures are available. Falun Dafa (or Falun Gong), which considers itself a spiritual organization rather than a religion, claims several thousand followers, nearly half of whom live in Yogyakarta, Bali, and Medan. However, specific numbers of followers were unavailable.

Section II. Status of Government Respect for Religious FreedomShare    

Legal/Policy Framework

The constitution protects religious freedom, although some other laws, policies, and local regulations restrict religious freedom. The Ministry of Home Affairs holds the authority to review and revoke local regulations that are not in accordance with national legislation, but it did not revoke some local regulations that violated freedom of religion. The constitution accords “all persons the right to worship according to their own religion or belief” and states that “the nation is based upon belief in one supreme God.” The first tenet of the country’s national ideology, Pancasila, similarly declares belief in one God. The government does not allow for nonbelief. Government employees must swear allegiance to the nation and to the Pancasila ideology. Other laws and policies at the national and regional levels restrict certain types of religious activity, particularly among unrecognized religious groups and “deviant” sects of recognized religious groups.

Aceh remained the only province authorized by national legislation to implement Sharia (Islamic law). Non-Muslims in the province remained exempt from Sharia. Aceh adopted a Sharia-based penal code imposing physical punishment for violations of the law. Some local governments outside of Aceh also have laws with elements of Sharia that abrogate certain rights of women and religious minorities.

The Ministry of Religious Affairs extends official status to six religious groups: Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Confucianism. Unrecognized groups may register with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism as social organizations. Although these groups have the right to establish a place of worship, obtain identity cards, and register marriages and births, they sometimes face administrative difficulties in doing so. In some cases, these challenges make it more difficult for individuals to find jobs or enroll children in school. Identity card applications are now legally acceptable when the “religion” section is left blank. However, some individuals reported that they sometimes faced obstacles in doing this.

The government permits the practice of traditional belief systems, or Aliran Kepercayaan, as cultural manifestations, rather than as religions. Aliran Kepercayaan groups must register with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism at the district or provincial level, and local authorities generally respected their right to practice their beliefs.

In 2008 the government issued a joint ministerial decree freezing certain activities of the Ahmadiyya Qadiyani (Ahmadiyya). Specifically, it bans both proselytizing by the Ahmadiyya and vigilantism against the group. Violation of the proselytizing ban carries a maximum five-year prison sentence on charges of blasphemy. However, the decree does not prohibit the Ahmadiyya from worshipping or continuing to practice within their community. Hardline groups and a government-appointed body, the Coordinating Board for Monitoring Mystical Beliefs in Society, supported an outright ban of the group. The Minister for Religious Affairs also publicly supported a ban on the Ahmadiyya. During the year, a number of provinces and other local governments issued decrees targeted at the Ahmadiyya, strengthening and reinforcing the limitations within the 2008 joint ministerial decree. Provinces that issued decrees further limiting the religious expression of the Ahmadiyya included East Java and West Java.

In April 2010 the Constitutional Court upheld the 1965 Blasphemy Law, holding that the government maintains the power to impose limitations on religious freedoms based upon security considerations. The law provides for a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment for blasphemy.

The government requires officially recognized religious groups to comply with Ministry of Religious Affairs and other ministerial directives, such as the Revised Joint Ministerial Decree on the Construction of Houses of Worship (2006), Overseas Aid to Religious Institutions in Indonesia (1978), and Guidelines for the Propagation of Religion (1978).

The 2006 Revised Joint Ministerial Decree on the Construction of Houses of Worship requires religious groups that want to build a house of worship to obtain the signatures of at least 90 members of the group and 60 persons of other religious groups in the community stating that they support the construction. The decree also requires approval from the local religious affairs office, the Forum for Religious Harmony (FKUB). While the FKUB at times deters construction, it has, in some areas, helped to foster positive communication between religious groups.

The Guidelines for Overseas Aid to Religious Institutions require domestic religious organizations to obtain approval from the Ministry of Religion to receive funding from overseas donors. The Guidelines for Propagation of Religion ban proselytizing to members of recognized religious groups under most circumstances.

The Child Protection Act of 2002 makes conversion of minors to a religion other than their own through “tricks” and/or “lies,” terms that can be applied loosely, a crime punishable by up to five years in prison.

Presidential Decree 11/2003 formally implemented Sharia law and established Sharia courts in Aceh. Since that time the provincial government has passed three Sharia laws, one governing relations between members of the opposite sex and two others banning alcohol consumption and gambling. Non-Muslims are specifically exempted. Since 2007, however, Aceh has steadily reduced enforcement of Sharia.

The penalty for more serious violations of Sharia can include caning. Persons subject to caning in Aceh are fully clothed--sometimes with several layers of clothes. There are also regulations effectively limiting the amount of force that may be applied during a caning.

Although not specifically classified as Sharia, many local governments attempt to implement Sharia-inspired regulations. Tempo magazine reported on September 4 that there are more than 150 Sharia-inspired local regulations in the country. Although these regulations are unevenly enforced and apply only to Muslims, many Muslim scholars and human rights activists claim that these regulations create or increase discrimination against women. In some cases these laws require Muslim women to wear headscarves in public and prevent Muslim women from receiving government services if they are not wearing headscarves. Regulations also mandate that elected Muslim officials, students, civil servants, and individuals seeking marriage licenses be able to read the Qur’an in Arabic and prohibit Muslims from consuming alcohol and gambling. Other regulations prohibit the sale of food and beverages during the day throughout the month of Ramadan and make mandatory the payment of zakat or alms for Muslims. For example, in Pandeglang Regency and Serang Regency in Banten province, local regulations require elementary school students to attend a Qur’anic school in the evening. A certificate from this school is needed to apply for high schools, although students can obtain this certificate without actually attending class as long as they are able to read the Qur’an.

Civil rights activists asserted that Sharia-based regulations violate the constitution and called on the government to exercise its constitutional jurisdiction to revoke or review these regulations. During the year the Ministry of Home Affairs revoked 351 local regulations, nine of which were regulations prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages in a number of districts and cities.

The 1974 Marriage Law makes polygamy illegal for civil servants, except in limited circumstances. The marriage law for Muslims draws from Sharia and allows a man to have up to four wives, provided he is able to support each equally. For a man to take a second, third, or fourth wife, he must obtain court permission and the consent of the first wife; however, these conditions were not always required in practice. Many women reportedly encounter societal pressures that make permission difficult to refuse. Islamic women’s groups remained divided over whether the system needs revision. In 2007 the Constitutional Court upheld a spouse’s right to deny a husband’s demand to take on additional wives, ruling that restrictions on polygamy in the Marriage Law violate neither the constitution nor tenets of Islam and are necessary to protect the rights of women. Some members of Islamic groups viewed this as a restriction of their religious freedom.

In 2008 the president signed antipornography legislation which some provinces refused to implement on the grounds that it limits religious and cultural expression, compelling all citizens to adhere to conservative interpretations of Islamic customs. The law outlaws pornographic acts and images, defining pornography as “man-made sexual materials in the form of drawings, sketches, illustrations, photographs, text, voice, sound, moving pictures, animation, cartoons, poetry, conversations, and gestures.” It also outlaws public performances which could “incite sexual desire.” The governor of Bali stated that the law is incompatible with traditional Hindu dances and customs. The law also appears to proscribe the traditional clothing worn in many areas of the country. In March 2010 the Constitutional Court held the antipornography law did not violate the constitution.

Divorce remains a legal option available to members of all religions, but Muslims seeking divorce generally must use the Islamic-based family court system while non-Muslims use the national court system. In divorce cases women often bear a heavier evidentiary burden than men, especially in the Islamic-based family court system. The law requires the former husband to provide alimony or its equivalent, but no enforcement mechanism exists, and divorced women rarely receive such support.

The government exercises exclusive control over organizing the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. The Ministry of Religious Affairs provides guidance, service, and protection to Hajj pilgrims during their pilgrimage and determines the costs associated with the Hajj.

Under the National Education Law, religious instruction in any one of the six official religions is required when requested by a student.

Religious speeches are permissible if delivered to members of the same religious group and are not intended to convert persons of other religious groups.

Televised religious programming is unrestricted for any of the recognized religious groups.

Publication of religious materials or the use of religious symbols is permitted; however, the government bans dissemination of these materials to persons of other religious groups.

Religious groups and social organizations must obtain permits to hold religious concerts or other public events. The government usually grants permits in an unbiased manner unless a concern existed that the activity would raise strong objections from members of another religious group in the area.

Foreign religious workers must obtain religious worker visas, and foreign religious organizations must obtain permission from the Ministry of Religious Affairs to provide any type of assistance (in-kind, personnel, or financial) to local religious groups.

The law does not discriminate against any recognized religious group in employment, housing, or health care.

The government observes the following religious holidays as national holidays: the Ascension of the Prophet, Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, the Muslim New Year, Good Friday, the Ascension of Christ, the Birth of the Prophet Muhammad, Christmas, the Buddhist holiday Waisak, the Chinese New Year, and the Hindu holiday Nyepi. Additional Hindu holy days are recognized as regional holidays in Bali, and the Balinese do not work on Saraswati Day, Galungan, and Kuningan.

Government Practices

There were reports of government abuses of religious freedom. The country has a long tradition of religious pluralism but certain laws, policies, and official actions restricted religious freedom. Due to inaction the government sometimes failed to prevent violence, abuse, and discrimination against individuals based on their religious belief.

Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) reported an increase in government abuses of religious freedom throughout the year. The Wahid Institute reported that during the year there were 93 government-instigated violations of religious freedom, in comparison with 64 in 2010. The Setara Institute reported 105 cases of government abuses of religious freedom during the year.

The government detained and imprisoned individuals under the blasphemy law, sometimes in response to the expression of their religious beliefs or opinions about religion. For example, in the city of Temanggung, Central Java, Antonius Richmond Bawengan was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for blasphemy on February 8. Bawengan was accused in October 2010 of distributing books deemed “offensive to Islam.” Bawengan’s literature was also reportedly critical of the Catholic Church.

In addition some individuals were interrogated under suspicion of having violated the blasphemy law in connection with personal religious expression. In one case an individual was questioned by police in Solo, Central Java following accusations of blasphemy on June 15 for wearing a teeshirt with a propluralism message. Both the individual and his friend who purchased the teeshirt were questioned after members of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) accused them of buying the teeshirt. At the end of the year, no additional developments or charges were reported in this case.

There were cases of forced mass resettlement of members of a religious group resulting from a failure to manage social conflict and discrimination. More than 100 members of the Ahmadiyya religious group remained as internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Transito Camp in Mataram, Lombok, where they have lived since 2006 after mob violence forced them from their homes. Without a home address, most continued to have difficulty obtaining identity cards (KTPs) and, consequently, were sometimes denied free health services from hospitals and voter registration for local elections. Conditions in Transito Camp remained difficult, with cramped living space and limited access to water. Ahmadiyya IDPs no longer received a rice subsidy, water, or electricity supplied by the local government. Although children attended local schools, they faced harassment. In July 2009 Ahmadiyya IDPs requested compensation for their assets from the local administration, but the claim was pending at the end of the year.

NGOs alleged that there were cases of officially encouraged conversion, with a particular focus on members of religious groups and “sects” not officially recognized by the government. Regional governments reportedly encouraged members of the Ahmadiyya community to return to mainstream Islam, sometimes in agreement with regional-level Indonesian Military (TNI) and National Police representatives. NGOs reported TNI efforts in West Java province to encourage Ahmadis to “return” to orthodox Islam.

Senior government officials praised conversions of Ahmadis to mainstream Islam in public statements. Minister of Religious Affairs Suryadharma Ali praised these conversions in an October 14 statement, and commented that they are a positive impact of restrictions on the activities of the Ahmadiyya.

Cases related to government-sanctioned closures of houses of worship and the freedom to construct houses of worship were a challenge throughout the year. The most high profile of these cases was the GKI Yasmin church, located in the city of Bogor, West Java. The city of Bogor government initially approved a construction permit for the Yasmin church in 2006, but construction was halted following a 2008 city government decision. The church challenged this city-level decision in the court system. The Supreme Court decided in favor of the church in December 2010, but this court decision was not enforced by the city government. At times local public order police (Satpol PP) and Bogor City police blocked access to the church site. For example, on March 20, police blocked members of the congregation from accessing the site of their church when they attempted to attend worship services. Throughout the year the congregation faced intimidation from hardline organizations when attempting to attend Sunday services at the site of their church.

Two members of the Baha’i community in Sidorejo, Lampung province faced prosecution under the child protection law for allegedly sharing tenets of their religion during children’s classes under their supervision. One of the two men was detained and charged in June 2010, with the second detained in July 2010. Their trial began in September 2010, and concluded in November 2010 with both men being sentenced to five years in prison for violating the Child Protection Law. Trial observers reported that the courtroom was often overrun with supporters of hardline Muslim groups. Following their convictions, the two men appealed the district court’s decision. Following their appeals, the Supreme Court upheld their convictions and five-year prison sentences on April 29. At the end of the year, the two men remained imprisoned.

Conflict surrounding Radio Erabaru, a radio station affiliated with the Sound of Hope network and the Falun Gong movement, continued throughout the year. In October 2010 Radio Erabaru won an administrative court decision affirming its right to broadcast temporarily, pending a ruling by the Supreme Court. On March 22, station founder Gatot Machali was accused in a personal criminal case of “broadcasting without authorization and disrupting neighboring frequencies.” On September 6, the court sentenced Machali to six months’ probation and a fine. Machali appealed the conviction, and this appeal was pending at the end of the year. Separately, on September 13, a team of officials from various government agencies raided Radio Erabaru and seized broadcasting equipment. Officials claimed that the signal from Radio Erabaru was disrupting nearby flights. On November 2, the Batam Frequency Monitoring Board named Machali as a suspect in a separate criminal case.

During the year a number of regional governments passed decrees limiting or banning the free practice of the Ahmadiyya religion. These decrees were often vague in their language and directly encouraged by the Indonesian Clerical (Ulema) Council (MUI), limited the ability of community members to publicly worship, and in some cases banned community members from conducting public activities in a locality. Even where they had no legal effect on the ability of Ahmadis to worship privately, these decrees often led to societal discrimination against their community. An example of this is the decree issued in Bekasi, West Java on October 13, which did not explicitly ban or protect the Ahmadiyya community’s right to private worship. In the wake of the Bekasi decree, members of the Ahmadiyya community in that city were reportedly forced to pray under police guard following perceived threats from hardline groups.

In addition to banning the free practice of their religion, local governments encouraged members of security forces to monitor the activities of members of the Ahmadiyya community.

Local government restrictions on minority religious groups also included a ban in the city of Banda Aceh against the Millata Abraham sect. The ban was signed into law on April 6. Afterwards the city government called adherents to report to the city’s Office for Islamic Affairs, ostensibly for “rehabilitation” and to “teach them to follow the right path.”

Government officials occasionally restricted the display of religious symbols, ostensibly with the goal of maintaining stability in their areas of responsibility. After approving the construction of a Mahayana Buddha statue, officials in the city of Tanjung Balai, North Sumatra called for the statue to be moved from its initial location. The calls for removal of the statue were reportedly in response to pressure from hardline religious groups. On April 1, an official at the Ministry of Religious Affairs also called for the removal of the statue. However, following debate within the central government, the government ultimately decided to permit the continued presence of the statue.

As with many buildings throughout the country, disability access was an issue for religious buildings and houses of worship. The government did not effectively enforce laws requiring accessibility, in effect restricting the ability of persons with disabilities to practice their religion.

In March 2010 local authorities closed the Batak Protestant Church (HKBP) at Pondok Timur in Bekasi, West Java. Church members continued to hold services in the sealed building until June, when the local government again sealed the church. Consequently, the congregation held services in a field, where they were attacked by members of hardline groups, including the FPI and the Forum of Islamic Believers. In September 2010, following the end of Ramadan, FPI members assaulted Luspida Simandjuntak, the church’s pastor, and stabbed Asia Sihombing, a church elder. Twelve members of FPI, including the former Bekasi city leader of FPI, were charged in connection with this attack. In November 2010 leadership of the HKBP dropped a lawsuit against the city of Bekasi, and the mayor agreed to provide the church with land to construct a house of worship. On February 24, following a trial, the 12 FPI members who attacked Simandjuntak and Sihombing received prison sentences ranging from five to seven months in prison. Murhali Barda, the former head of FPI’s Bekasi chapter, received a sentence of five months and 15 days in prison for his role in the assault.

The civil registration system continued to discriminate against persons not belonging to one of the six recognized religious groups. Animists, Baha’i, and members of other small minority religious groups sometimes found it difficult to register births or marriages, notwithstanding the 2007 regulation pertaining to marriage and civil administration which allowed Aliran Kepercayaan marriages to be officially recognized. According to the Trimulya Foundation, an NGO that advocates for rights of Aliran Kepercayaan followers, adherents were sometimes unable to register marriages.

Interreligious couples also continued to face obstacles to marrying and officially registering their marriages and often had difficulty finding clergy to perform the required ceremonies before registering a marriage. As a result some couples traveled outside the country to marry and then registered the marriage at an embassy. Despite being among the officially recognized religious groups, Hindus stated that they frequently had to travel long distances to have their marriages registered, because in many rural areas, the local government could not or would not perform the registration. For example, marriages between Hindus and non-Hindus in the province of West Nusa Tenggara involved a complicated process, which included a meeting with the head of their village and social leaders. Occasionally, these leaders used the meeting to discourage the couple from marrying.

In practice couples prevented from registering their marriage or the birth of a child sometimes converted to one of the recognized religions or misrepresented themselves as belonging to one of the six religions. Those who chose not to register their marriages or births risked future difficulties, such as an inability to obtain birth certificates for children, which were required for school enrollment, scholarships, and government employment.

Human rights groups continued to receive occasional reports of local civil registry officials who rejected applications for identity cards (KTPs) submitted by members of unrecognized or minority religious groups. While civil registry regulations allowed the religion field to be left blank or select the choice “other,” the decentralized nature of the issuance of identity cards meant that some regions did not comply with these regulations. Some members of unrecognized religious groups found it easier to register with a religion other than their own and were issued KTPs that inaccurately reflected their religions. For example, some animists received KTPs that listed their religion as Islam. Many Sikhs were registered as Hindu on their KTPs and marriage certificates. Similarly, some Jews registered as Christians or Muslims. Some citizens without a KTP had difficulty finding work. Several NGOs and religious advocacy groups continued to urge the government to delete the religion category from the KTPs, but no progress was made.

While local FKUBs were designed to serve in part as interfaith forums or arbiters, they were often dominated by the majority religious group, which could oppose or stall provision of licenses to minority groups. In several cases in West Java, small churches faced difficulties obtaining licenses, frequently due to opposition in the FKUB.

Sharia police in Aceh continued to monitor compliance with Sharia regulations, although the level of police activity varied between districts. Province-wide the budget for the Sharia police has been reduced from from 37 billion rupiah to 20 billion rupiah ($41 million to $22 million). Efforts to educate the public about and enforce Sharia continued, albeit at much lower intensity than in the past. A Human Rights Watch report published on December 1 highlighted concerns with enforcement of Sharia in Aceh, including abuses committed by the religious police and regular police in the execution of their duties. The report also detailed the perceived inconsistent application of Sharia to settle personal disputes.

Officials in West Aceh have expanded the number of Sharia police, particularly after the Head of District (Bupati) Ramli issued a regulation in October 2009 against women wearing pants considered too tight. Religious police detained Muslim women wearing pants and compelled them to change into a long skirt or to wear a skirt over their pants. Some women complained that it is uncomfortable for them to wear a skirt when riding on a motorcycle in accordance with the law. Other districts in Aceh that do not have a law against women wearing pants also sporadically enforced this requirement in the wake of the West Aceh law. On December 10, various media outlets reported on a crackdown against punk music in the city of Banda Aceh. Local authorities detained more than 60 concert goers, shaved their heads, and subjected them to religious reeducation.

During Ramadan, many local governments ordered either the closure or a reduction in operating hours of various entertainment establishments. Several regional governments issued circulars limiting the operating hours of night entertainment venues, cafes, and restaurants during the month of Ramadan. Some of the restaurants chose to close voluntarily while others, if not serving halal food, remained open, often posting a sign that the business was not Muslim-owned.

There were frequent allegations of corruption, poor management, and inadequate service in administration of the hajj, as conducted by the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

Christian groups stated that foreign religious workers found it difficult to obtain or extend visas. Requirements for religious worker visas were more onerous than other visa categories. The application required approval from both local and national offices within the Ministry of Religion and disclosure of the number of followers of the religion in the community. The applicants must attest they would remain in their position no more than two years before being replaced by a local national. Foreigners granted such visas worked relatively unimpeded. Faith-based workers with a primary focus on development work often successfully registered for social visas with the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Education.

Government Inaction

The government failed to take sufficient action with regard to continued discrimination, restrictions, and occasional attacks toward the Ahmadiyya. These attacks were occasionally extremely violent; for example, a group of over 1,500 individuals murdered three Ahmadis in Cikeusik, Banten province and injured five others. Video footage of the attack posted to the Internet shows members of the mob beating victims to death while police officers failed to intervene. NGOs report that local authorities ignored warning signs of impending violence and did not take proper precautions before the attack. In the weeks following the attack, police arrested 12 of the perpetrators. After a trial that was reportedly marred by irregularities, the 12 perpetrators were convicted and received disproportionately light prison sentences ranging from three to six months. One member of the Ahmadiyya community, who was injured during the attack, was arrested in May and charged with provoking the attack. This member of the Ahmadiyya community was sentenced to seven months in prison.

The government failed to condemn the 2007 MUI fatwa rejecting Islamic groups such as the Ahmadiyya. The government also failed to condemn the 2005 MUI fatwa that explicitly banned the Ahmadiyya, as well as related local government bans. Authorities failed to halt or investigate vandalism on a number of Ahmadiyya facilities during the year. Varying reports provided different numbers of Ahmadiyya mosques attacked or closed.

During the year the government did not take any concrete action to enforce the December 2010 Supreme Court decision permitting the GKI Yasmin church to reopen (as reported above).

Section III. Status of Societal Respect for Religious FreedomShare    

There were reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice.

Organizations within society particularly responsible for these abuses included the FPI, mass organizations, and the MUI. Individual citizens and unidentified mobs also engaged in societal abuses or discrimination on a religious basis. In addition there were isolated incidents of religiously-motivated terrorism to which the police responded with investigations, arrests, and prosecutions. During the year the Wahid Institute reported 38 cases of societal abuse or discrimination directly attributed to the FPI.

Various NGOs reported an increase in abuses and discrimination during the year. For example, the Setara Institute reported 194 violations of religious freedom by non-state actors during the year, compared to 183 during 2010.

Hardline groups, including the FPI, renewed their attacks against the Ahmadiyya and pressured the government to ban the Ahmadiyya religion. Civil rights activists, members of the Presidential Advisory Council, and leaders from Muhammadiyah and Nadhlatul Ulama continued to assert that any such ban would be unconstitutional and contrary to the principles of Islam. These efforts were often spearheaded by local chapters of the Indonesian Ulema Council. The Wahid Institute recorded 65 cases of intolerance specifically targeting the Ahmadiyya during the year.

As an example of societal violence against the Ahmadiyya community, members of FPI attacked an Ahmadiyya complex in Makassar, South Sulawesi during the month of Ramadan. On August 14, a group of FPI members broke several windows at the complex, including at its mosque, and damaged a car and a motorcycle parked in the compound. The FPI members also attacked a security guard and two paralegals from the Legal Aid Foundation (LBH). In addition, they assaulted a police officer responding to the attack, reportedly pushing him down. Following the attack, three members of the Makassar FPI chapter were charged in connection with their roles in the violence. At the end of the year, court proceedings were still continuing.

In another particularly egregious case (reported under Government Inaction), on February 6, members of hardline groups and local individuals attacked an Ahmadiyya community in Cikeusik, Banten province. The attackers killed three individuals.

Other sectarian conflict during the year included isolated cases of violence against Shia communities. For example, a mob of youth from a Sunni school attacked a Shia-affiliated Yapi pesantren in Pasuruan, East Java on February 15. Tensions between Shia and Sunni communities occasionally erupted into conflict on the island of Madura in East Java province. These tensions were reportedly fed by economic and personal disputes. After provocation via anti-Shia propaganda, a mob burned Shia-owned property and forced Shia followers from their homes in Sampang, Madura. As many as 300 people were forced to relocate.

During the year extremist terrorist groups perpetrated isolated attacks on houses of worship. For example, a suicide bomber attacked a mosque within a police compound in Cirebon, West Java on April 15. The government responded quickly and investigated the attack. At the end of the year, legal proceedings were ongoing for 13 individuals charged with involvement in planning the attack. In another case a suicide bomber attacked the Bethel Injil Sepuluh church in Solo, Central Java, killing two worshipers.

During the year, according to the Indonesian Communion of Churches and the Wahid Institute, local government officials and local communities forced the closing of several licensed and unlicensed churches in addition to Ahmadi houses of worship. Many of the targeted churches operated in private homes and storefronts, and some churches moved their services to rented spaces in public shopping malls to lessen the potential of threats from hardline groups.

Militant groups and mobs throughout the country attacked, vandalized, forced to shut, or prevented from being established several houses of worship, religious schools, and homes of Muslim groups regarded as unorthodox. In several cases police temporarily detained members of “deviant groups” who were victims of attacks, ostensibly to ensure their safety, but did not arrest attackers.

In addition, militant groups and mobs occasionally attacked installations of art, ostensibly because they violated their religious sensitivities. For example, a group of people in Purwakarta vandalized four statues of traditional “wayang” puppets on September 18.

Muslims reported occasional difficulties in establishing mosques in Muslim-minority areas of Bali, Papua, North Sulawesi, and elsewhere.

Hardline religious groups used pressure, intimidation, or violence against those whose messages or practices offended them. Militants purporting to uphold public morality sometimes attacked cafes and nightclubs they considered venues for prostitution or that had not made payments to extremist groups, although the number of such incidents decreased compared to previous years. In one incident in September, activists from a number of hardline Muslim groups disrupted an international lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender film festival in Jakarta, threatening venues with violence and causing the cancellation of film screenings.

During the month of Ramadan, the FPI conducted raids on restaurants serving food during the day in Makassar, South Sulawesi, and as reported above, also attacked an Ahmadiyya office. In a contrast with previous years, the FPI did not conduct vigilante raids in Jakarta on entertainment establishments during Ramadan. However, FPI members were involved in a number of violent incidents during the year, including attacks on churches and Ahmadiyya mosques.

Voluntary conversions between religious groups occurred, as allowed by law, but remained a source of controversy. At the urging of mass organizations, some individuals were charged with violating the Child Protection Law for allegedly attempting to convert local youth from one religion to another. Some Muslims accused Christian groups of using food and microcredit programs as incentives for impoverished Muslims to convert.

Section IV. U.S. Government PolicyShare    

The U.S. government frequently engaged with the government and civil society on topics related to religious freedom. The U.S. embassy and the consulates in Surabaya and Medan regularly engaged with all levels of the government on specific religious freedom issues. The embassy made public statements on religious freedom cases. Embassy staff at all levels met frequently with religious leaders, officials of Muslim social organizations, and human rights advocates to clarify U.S. policy in support of religious freedom, discuss religious tolerance, and promote respect for religion. Embassy staff also met with members of minority religious groups who were victims of violent attacks or found their houses of worship or training facilities forcibly closed.

In addition to the work of the embassy and consulates, officials from the Department of State’s Office of International Religious Freedom traveled to the country in September and discussed a number of topics related to religious freedom.

Embassy and consulate public outreach emphasized the importance of religious freedom and tolerance in a democratic and diverse society. The embassy and consulates also promoted pluralism and tolerance through exchanges and civil society programs.

During the year 20 student leaders travelled to the United States and participated in a U.S. government-funded Study of the U.S. Institute (SUSI) for Student Leaders on the subject of religious pluralism. One professor traveled to the United States as part of a U.S. government-funded SUSI for scholars on the subject of religious pluralism. An additional four leaders from the country traveled to the United States on a U.S. government-funded International Visitor Leadership Program on the topic of pluralism and democracy. They met with representatives from the Office of International Religious Freedom and the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, among several other U.S. Department of State offices.

The embassy and consulates reached a broad audience across the country during the year through the production of media programs that provided in-depth coverage of issues, including religious freedom, from an American perspective. These included several television cooperative productions, which broadcast on major free-to-air television stations.

The embassy supported a number of outreach programs during Ramadan, including a number of iftars (evening meals during Ramadan) and an extensive speakers program reaching a broad cross-section of society. The U.S. government’s special representative to Muslim communities visited the country during Ramadan and spoke extensively to national media outlets about her campaign against violence and her role as a special representative. Shortly afterwards the embassy invited Muslim Hip Hop group “Native Deen” to tour four cities in the country. While on their 10-day tour, they appeared on national television shows, performed several large concerts with thousands of audience members, and attended fast breaking events.

The embassy and consulates engaged with religious figures through an active outreach program. A number of programs at high schools, universities, and pesantrens (Islamic boarding schools) focused on diversity, pluralism, and religious tolerance. The embassy and consulates supported campus seminar programs aimed at strengthening supporters of pluralism on Islamic campuses and reinforcing an understanding of religious freedom, tolerance, pluralism, and gender equity. Five of the embassy’s 11 American Corners were in Islamic universities. During the academic year 2010-2011, 14 of 40 Fulbright English teaching assistants were scheduled to be placed in pesantrens.