Islam, The Constitution, And Human Rights: The Problematics of Religious Freedom In Indonesia
The indonesian struggle to freely stand on its own feet - to borrow Bung Karno's words - as a democratic country is still a long way off. At the centre of this issue are the rights of all citizens to be treated fairly and equally in the face of the Indonesian constitution and law. In enforcing legislation in Indonesia there should be no differentiation between citizens based on their wealth, skin colour, ethnicity, religion and so on. Yet this is precisely what is happing.
Rights have been quite explicitly regulated in the 1945 Indonesian constitution, which states who has authority and elects the government as enforcer. These rights include the right to form alliances/associations, economic rights, cultural rights, rights concerning religion and belief etc. One of the most important rights for all nations including Indonesia is the right to religion and belief. This right, besides being guaranteed in the 1945 constitution is also expressed in international laws ratified by the Indonesian government such as the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights , as well as in religious teachings.
Thus, reformation and democratisation should demand that the government implement initiatives that strengthen equality and fairness for the rights of all citizens. Yet reality shows that this is far from where it should be at, and indeed there are many obstacles hindering such initiatives. For instance, there is still an incomplete paradigm or lack of understanding about the state amongst citizens themselves, let alone amongst state apparatus and leaders. This lack of understanding concerning citizenship and human rights then spreads into newly compiled legislation and other regulations, and is very apparent in their implementation.
The Wahid Institute is honoured to present an in-depth examination of this issue, which is based on aspirations and a commitment to enforce and guarantee one important right of Indonesians without exception and thus to realise the aspirations of the Indonesian nation and state as imagined by the Indonesian people and founding fathers - namely the right to freedom of religion or belief.
Having taken from book's foreword titled of Islam, Constitution, And Human Rights: The Problematics Of Religious Freedom In Indonesia (Wahid Institute, 2010)