Indonesian president worried by growing religious intolerance
Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said he was concerned by growing religious intolerance in the country with world’s largest Muslim population, which many analysts say his administration has failed to contain.
Indonesia has recently seen a series of increasingly violent attacks on religious minorities like Christians, Shia Muslims and members of Ahmadiyah, a small Islamic sect which is considered heretical by mainstream Muslims.
“I am very concerned about the continuing incidents of intolerance and communal conflict we see, which are often violent,” Yudhoyono said in an annual address to parliament.
“We should always be able to prevent these if we prioritize dialogue and if the country’s leaders, in government and religious institutions, take collective responsibility.”
Yudhoyono, in office since 2004 and whose current term ends next year, has been criticized for failing to defend the rights of religious minorities.
“President Yudhoyono seems to say all the right words. But he does not talk about legal discrimination that his administration had created over the last nine years,” Andreas Harsono, Indonesia director for Human Rights Watch, told Reuters in an email.