Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Indonesia: Religious violence up: survey

--- The Straits Times, Singapore

Breaking News January 15, 2009 Thursday Updated 11.28 pm

Religious violence up: survey

JAKARTA - RELIGIOUS violence in Indonesia escalated in 2008, researchers said on Thursday.

A study by the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace found 265 cases of violence on religious grounds last year compared to 135 cases in 2007.

‘Religious violence was more sporadic in 2008 than 2007 as more individuals were involved besides the radical Islamic organisations,’ Setara Institute chairman Hendardi, who only uses one name, said.

‘The government’s ban on the Ahmadiyah sect triggered the escalation of religious violence,’ he said of the Muslim sect which claimed as having about 500,000 followers in Indonesia.

The study found 103 religious violence cases alone in June 2008, the month in which the government issued a quasi-ban on the Ahmadiyah sect.

But liberals in the world’s most populous Muslim country lambasted the ban as unconstitutional and criticised the government as caving in to the behest of extremist groups.

Hendardi said the institute used a different method for its latest study.

‘We had field researchers across 10 provinces for the latest study. In 2007, we only observed reports in the media,’ he said, adding that the media had done a thorough job in reporting religious violence in the country. — AFP

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