Bridging the Unbridgable

Tuesday, November 19th, 2019, 12:04 WIB

international symposium

Dr. Dicky Sofjan and Syamsul Asri represent ICRS in International Conference themed "Religious Freedom: An Islamic Case" managed by Internasional Liberty Network in Collaboration with Fatayat NU, Religious Freedom Institute, staged in Double Tree Hotel, Jakarta, 11-12 November 2019. The presentation took place as one of several panels chaired by Dr. Timothy Shah and Robert Hefner as discussant. 

This presentation examines the dialectics of religious freedom (kebebasan beragama) and religious harmony (kerukunan beragama) in post-reform Indonesia. It delves into the inherent contradictions embedded in the rather contradictory theory and praxis of religious freedom and harmony in the country. Contemporary Indonesian religious life has seen a number of religious rights violations by religion-based bigots against vulnerable groups. Such violations of religious freedom are often overshadowed by the insistence on the maintenance of religious harmony, which is habitually perceived to be under threat, through the process of minoritization. The main research question thus explores why the Indonesian state and society continue to opt and invest heavily in harmony often at the expense of religious freedom.

Preliminary findings suggest that following two decades of reformasi, the Indonesian state and society have yet to get over the state-centric management of religious diversity, which was in full swing throughout the 32 years of President Suharto’s tenure. As a matter of principle and policy, religious harmony has conveniently provided the state with the necessary cover to dominate both the country’s discourse and praxis of religious diversity. The study derives its data from four Focused Group Discussions (FGDs) and workshops held in Makassar, Medan, Surabaya, Jakarta and Yogyakarta. In-depth interviews were held with subject matter experts and informants, including religious leaders, scholars and representatives, academia, officials from the central and local governments as well as the security sector.