UN condemns Indonesia's increasing violence against Shiites

Report
from Agence France-Presse
Published on 13 Nov 2012

11/13/2012 13:31 GMT

JAKARTA, Nov 13, 2012 (AFP) - The UN human rights chief condemned Tuesday violence and discrimination against Christians and Muslim minorities like Shiites in Indonesia, the world's biggest Muslim-majority nation.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said she had met with leaders of Christian communities, as well as Islamic minority Shiite and Ahmadiyah sects, all of which have been targeted by hardliners in recent years.

"I was distressed to hear accounts of violent attacks, forced displacement, denial of identification cards and other forms of discrimination and harassment against them," she told reporters in the capital Jakarta.

She warned Indonesia risked losing its culture of diversity and tolerance "if firm action is not taken to address increasing levels of violence and hatred towards minorities and narrow and extremist interpretations of Islam".

Indonesia's constitution guarantees freedom of religion but rights groups say violence against minorities has been escalating since 2008 in the nation of 240 million people, nearly 90 percent of whom identify as Muslims, the vast majority Sunni.

Pillay recommended Indonesia repeal its blasphemy law from 1965, under which a Shiite cleric was jailed for two years in July for saying the Koran was not an authentic text and that the hajj pilgrimage was not obligatory.

She also called for the revocation of a 2008 ministerial decree that deemed Ahmadiyah "deviant" for believing in a prophet after Mohammed and banned Ahmadis from proselytising.

In May, a mob of 600 Islamic hardliners threw plastic bags filled with urine at an Indonesian church congregation marking the ascension of Christ.

In August 2011, an Indonesian court handed jail sentences of just a few months to 12 hardliners who clubbed to death three Ahmadiyah men as police looked on.

Shiite Muslims have become common targets for hardliners. A mob of around 500 Sunni Muslims wielding machetes and sickles attacked a Shiite community in August, killing two and torching dozens of homes in eastern Java.

Pillay also expressed concern over sharia law in Aceh province -- where canings are common and a law on stoning was passed in 2009 -- saying enforcement was "arbitrary" and "discriminatory" against women, creating "an environment of intimidation and fear".

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