MPs and other stakeholders come together to advance religious tolerance in Indonesia

INDONESIA — Members of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) joined other key stakeholders yesterday for a workshop organized by the National Democratic Institute (NDI), which focused on strategies to promote religious tolerance in the lead up to Indonesia’s 2019 national election. The event was attended by about 30 participants and was held in Jakarta from 10 to 11 July.

“As we work to counter religious hatred, there’s an ever stronger need to revitalize the principles of unity in diversity, as well as those under Pancasila. Key stakeholders, such as civil society groups and government authorities, must continue working together to engage with a broad range of groups, so as to depolarize the society,” said APHR Board Member Eva Kusuma Sundari, a member of the Indonesian House of Representatives and a participant at the workshop.

The workshop was a follow-up from a previous policy dialogue co-organized by APHR and NDI in Jakarta March this year and aimed to discuss the formation of a platform for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) through social media.

This week’s event brought together parliamentarians, civil society organizations, faith organizations and leaders, technology experts, media, political party members, and elements of governmental authorities from Indonesia. The participants agreed for the need of a platform that will strengthen tolerance and multiculturalism in Indonesia during the 2019 election, in addition to requirements for a free and fair election.

Participants agreed to form a task force aimed at promoting religious tolerance and multiculturalism in Indonesia, focused, in particular, on concerns that are likely to arise during election periods.

“The establishment of this task force is crucial to ensuring that individual efforts and actions of all stakeholders are consolidated and that the 2019 election will not polarize the Indonesian society as a result of hateful campaign,” Sundari said.

APHR members and others also discussed additional topics, including strategies to minimize the politicization of religion during campaigns and ways to effectively utilize social media platforms to promote religious tolerance.

“Through more messages of peace and love, we hope we can effectively counter narratives of hatred and other forms of demeaning language that no person should ever be subjected to,” said former member of the Indonesian House of Representative, Maman Imanulhaq, who also attended the event. “The lack of groups actively advocating for tolerance has been a main contributing factor for the spread of intolerance and hatred in social media.”

Source: APHR