JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – Indonesia’s newly-appointed Religious Affairs Minister, Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, said that the government will protect the rights of Shia and Ahmadiyah religious groups in the country.
This was brought up by Yaqut in response to a request made by an Indonesian Muslim scholar, Azyumardi Azra, who is also a professor at the Syarif Hidayatullah Islamic State University (UIN) Jakarta.
“They are citizens who we must protect,” said Yaqut said as reported by State News Antara on Friday, December 25.
Yaqut said any minority religious groups must not be expelled from their hometowns because of their beliefs.
The Religious Affairs Ministry would facilitate a more intensive dialogue to bridge differences.
“A more intensive dialogue is needed to bridge differences. The Religious Affairs Ministry will facilitate it,” said the minister who is also chairman of GP Ansor, the youth wing of Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest Muslim organization in Indonesia.
Previously, Azyumardi said during a virtual discussion that the government should protect the rights of religious minorities in Indonesia. “Especially for those who have been excluded and persecuted. They need affirmation,” said Azyumardi.
He said that the government does not seem to recognize the religious minority groups. For example, religious minority groups still face difficulty to build places of worship.
The acts of intolerance, however, does not only occur among Muslim minorities but also happen to the followers of other religious communities in Indonesia.
“In a predominantly Protestant area, it is difficult for the Catholic congregations to build a church, while in Catholic-majority area, it is also difficult for Protestants to build places of worship,” said Azyumardi.
He further added that it would be difficult for the religious minority groups with a lack of supports to get permission to build places of worship.
(Writer: Sania Mashabi | Editor: Bayu Galih)
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