Indonesia Drafts New Law for Religious Freedom

Indonesian law

Indonesia’s president, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, and the Ministers for Religious and Home Affairs drafted a new law to protect religious freedom for minorities.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is keeping his campaign promise to fight for the commoners in Indonesia with his new proposed legislation to improve religious tolerance. Indonesia’s new government is starting to draft a new law that will protect all citizens, restoring religious freedom and protecting all minorities who were previously persecuted. Until now, Indonesia, which is the largest nation in the world with a Muslim majority, has officially recognized only six religions: Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Confucianism.

The legislation would replace an existing law issued in 1965, which is considered outdated by many. The old law mandates not only that everyone has to follow one of the six recognized religions but also many other rules and limitations. For example, people are allowed to marry only if they share the same religion, and they must declare this religion on their government-issued ID card.

The new law would remove this information from the ID cards, allowing people to marry regardless of their faith, and would make it easier for minorities to build their places of worship. This could represent a very important step in protecting followers of all faiths, and it would also give protection to atheists, who are not considered at all in the current Indonesian legislation.

Interior Minister Tjahyo Kumolo even said that many Indonesians avoid getting ID cards because they don’t want to disclose their religion, especially if it is not one of the six officially recognized ones. The new president Jokowi seems to be very firm in his stance of neutrality towards any particular religion.

President Jokowi has always been known for his religious tolerance, even supporting a Christian woman in a subdistrict head office while he was governor of Jakarta, and he is working together with Minister of Religious Affairs Lukman Hakim Syaifuddin to improve religious freedom for all Indonesian citizens. This new law is obviously a very important step for a country that is trying to make a positive change in its politics after its former Minister of Religious Affairs, Suryadharma Ali, who is currently under investigation for bribery. This new law, which the government plans to make effective in early 2015, could ensure a peaceful and tolerant Indonesia.


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