Conference Panel on Rights and Religious Minorities
NCHR chaired a session on Rights, Minorities and Religion under the 18 Annual International Conference in Islamic Studies at IAIN Palu, Indonesia, 17-20 September.
Left to right: Aksel Tømte, Nina Mariani Noor, Rusydi Suleiman, Maufur Ipung (photo: IAIN Palu)
Nina Mariani Noor from UIN Sunan Kalijaga focused on the struggle of the Ahmadiyah-community in Manislor to get identity cards. This struggle started in 2012 and lasted for more than five years. The right to citizenship is not only a right in itself, but the violation of this right in turn affected access to a range of other rights, such as the right to health and the right to education. She found, among other things, that the level of protection offered to Ahmadiyah-followers in Indonesia in practice was much dependent on regional government.
Rusydi Sulaiman from IAIN Syaikh Abdurrahman Siddik Bangka Belitung addressed the role of Inter-religious harmony forums in Bangka. In a local context with many differing theological views, the Inter-religious harmony forums are constructed to help maintain peace and tolerance. But who exactly do these forums represent?
Maufur Ipung from IAIN Kediri referred to a recent decision by the Constitutional Court that allowed for holders of traditional beliefs (which historically has not been recognised as "religion" by the Indonesian state) to register their beliefs on the religious column of their identify cards. The presentation focused not so much on the legal reasoning of the court itself, but rather on the public discourse that emerged in the aftermath of the ruling. While the human rights community generally welcomed the ruling, others were much more skeptical, claiming that the ruling violated the consensus on what it is that constitutes a “religion” in the Indonesian context.
The panel attracted great interest. The conference as a whole was funded by the Indonesian Ministry of Religious Affairs, and attended by the Minister. It consisted both of panels discussing theological issues, and of panels discussing the role of Islam and religion in contemporary societies.