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With respect to Christian persecution, read about the atrocities in the central Indonesian area called Sulawesi and about the extremist Islamists (tolerated by authorities) called the Laskar Jihad.
The January, 1999, anti-Christian violence resulted in the death of tens of thousands. Chris Wilson documented the ethnic cleansing in North Maluku in his book Ethno-Religious Violence in Indonesia: From Soil to God. (Oxon: Routledge, 2008).
The Asian Human Rights Commission in a study released last February concluded that there is no religious freedom in Indonesia. It stated that “There is continuing concern at the distinctions made in legal documents between the six recognized religions of Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism, and the adverse impact on the freedom of thought, conscience and religion of people belonging to minorities, ethnic groups and indigenous peoples in Indonesia.” There are lesser rights for non-recognized religions like Judaism, or for those who accept no religion and are atheists. A blasphemy law criminalizes speech and other expression by those outside the officially recognized religions.
Read on the internet about the terrible persecution of the Ahmadiyah minority Muslim sect, which is under violent intimidation in both Indonesia and Pakistan. But of course wars between Muslim sects (such as Sunni versus Shi’a) are a continuous problem in the supposed tolerant world of Islam.
Indonesia does not recognize Israel; that is, it does not believe that Jews can live in peace in the small historic Jewish homeland, surrounded by hostile Muslim states. Israelis are not allowed to travel to Indonesia. I do not believe it has ever objected to any of the numerous statements from radical Islamist groups and states that Israel should be “wiped out”.
And so, to the American president who reserves his criticisms for Israel’s homebuilding around its historic capital of Jerusalem, there is no criticizing Indonesian Muslims, Egyptian Muslims, or Palestinian Muslims. There is only continued praise for them and insistence that Americans and Muslims share similar values. There is never a request that Muslims take responsibility for their problems, only an appeasement-like agreement that their problems would disappear if Americans and Israelis would only submit a little more to this tolerant religion of peace.
We should be very suspicious of President Obama and what this all means for the future of our children and grandchildren. We have been handed a precious legacy of freedom and we should not stand idly by, as our legacy is squandered on the alter of moral relativism and false notions of tolerance.
Howard Rotberg (www.howardrotberg.ca) is a Canadian author, whose most recent book is TOLERism: The Ideology Revealed (Mantua Books).
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