Breaking the Cycle of Intolerance in Indonesia

Walter Lohman /

In the last few days in Indonesia, inter-communal ugliness has reared its head in way that is major cause for concern. That concern is lighting up mobile phones, Twitter, and Facebook accounts across Indonesia. Indonesians – particularly its middle and professional classes – are outraged to an extent unseen since June 2008 when Islamist militants descended on Jakartans peacefully commemorating Pancasila, Indonesia’s democratic, non-sectarian state creed.

The most recent incidents themselves are terrible. In Banten on Sunday, a mob numbering as many as 1,500 attacked an Ahmadi congregation, resulting in at least three deaths. And a couple days later, in an unrelated incident, three churches were attacked and burned in Central Java over a court’s handling of a blasphemy case.

Of course, to some extent, this is a law enforcement issue. Indonesia has its problems in that regard. But the much bigger problem with these incidents is the cycle of intolerance that encompasses them, a cycle much more familiar in places like Egypt and Pakistan, but which if not checked by firm Presidential leadership in Indonesia, threatens the freedom and fabric, and even territorial integrity of the nation. (more…)