Patterico's Pontifications

11/17/2009

Obama Plans to Visit Indonesia

Filed under: International,Obama,Religion — DRJ @ 2:00 am



[Guest post by DRJ]

President Obama accepted an invitation to visit Indonesia next year where he hopes to show his wife and daughters his “old haunting grounds.” He also took the opportunity to praise Indonesia:

“As one of the world’s largest Islamic nations, it has enormous influence and really is, I think, a potential model for the kind of development strategies, democracy strategies, as well as interfaith strategies that are going to be so important moving forward.”

It’s been said that Indonesia is proof a Muslim country can embrace democracy, but it’s also been said Indonesia’s democracy is too weak to stand up to militant Muslims. I doubt that’s what Obama meant by “interfaith strategies” so let’s consider how the U.S. Department of State views Indonesia’s religious freedom:

“The Constitution provides for freedom of religion. The Government officially recognized only six religions, and legal restrictions continued on certain types of religious activity.

The Government generally respected religious freedom in practice; however, ongoing government restrictions, particularly among unrecognized religions and sects of the recognized religions considered “deviant” were significant exceptions to respect for religious freedom. Since the previous reporting period the Government convicted and sentenced the leaders of a hardline Muslim organization to 18 months in prison, including time served, for their role in organized violence against a peaceful demonstration in support of religious freedom. The Government also prosecuted terrorists responsible for religiously tinged violence in Sulawesi and the Malukus. In some cases, however, the Government tolerated discrimination against and the abuse of religious groups by private actors and failed to punish perpetrators, although the Government prevented several vigilante actions during Ramadan. Aceh remained the only province authorized to implement Islamic law (Shari’a), although non-Muslims in the province are exempted from Shari’a. Many local governments outside of Aceh maintained laws with elements of Shari’a that abrogated certain rights of women and religious minorities; however, no new laws based on Shari’a were known to have passed during the reporting period. Even though the central Government holds authority over religious matters, it did not try to overturn any local laws that restricted rights guaranteed in the Constitution. Members of minority religious groups continued to experience some official discrimination in the form of administrative difficulties, often in the context of civil registration of marriages and births or the issuance of identity cards.”

This is the “potential model” for “interfaith strategies” Obama praises?

— DRJ

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