Dissecting SBY’s Award for Upholding Freedom of Religion and Presidential (MIs)Spokesperson Julian Pasha’s Arrogance

By N Mark Castro

“The ACF is a credible organization. Thus, the statements from certain people claiming themselves to be representatives of certain communities, suggesting or even pushing to annul the granting of the award, actually hold narrow-minded opinions that are based on a political philosophy without ethics,” Julian said.

Presidential Spokesperson Julian Aldrin Pasha

Pretty Boy Julian Aldrin Pasha has his lips caught yet again in another controversy with his (mis)statements in defending his boss’ impending award from the US-based Appeal of Conscience Foundation.

But before we delve in deeper, this is what the interfaith group, ACF, wants to bestow President Susilo Bambang Yudyohono an award for his courageous efforts in upholding religious freedom.

Let’s look at the facts and hope that no one has forgotten these:

An Indonesian court eventually prosecuted 12 militants for the crime, but handed down paltry sentences of only four to six months.

In June 2008, the Yudhoyono administration issued a decree requiring the Ahmadiyya sect to “stop spreading interpretations and activities that deviate from the principal teachings of Islam,” including its fundamental belief that there was a prophet after Muhammad. The government said the decree was necessary to prevent violence against the sect. But provincial and local governments used the decree to write even stricter regulations. Muslim militants, who consider the Ahmadiyya heretics, then forcibly shut down more than 30 Ahmadiyya mosques.

According to the New York Times:

More than 400 such churches have been closed since Mr. Yudhoyono took office in 2004.

By 2010, Indonesia had over 150 religiously motivated regulations restricting minorities’ rights.

The president’s weak leadership — despite receiving a massive mandate for his reelection — has resulted in the conflicting statements from his cabinet ministers with regards to freedom of religion; people who are supposed to be his representatives. Worse, he has actively courted conservative Islamist elements and relies on them to maintain his majority in Parliament, even granting them key cabinet positions. These appointments send a message to Indonesia’s population and embolden Islamist extremists to use violence against minorities.

In August 2011, for example, Muslim militants burned down three Christian churches on Sumatra. No one was charged and officials have prevented the congregations from rebuilding their churches. And on the outskirts of Jakarta, two municipalities have refused to obey Supreme Court orders to reopen two sealed churches.

President Yudhoyono claimed he had no authority to intervene.

In other words, it’s not his job to protect the integrity of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Indonesia. It’s not his job to protect the Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia … that piece of document that the founding fathers of the country fought and died for, and collectively agreed to guarantee the practice of different religions of this diverse nation.

It’s not his job.

Which is why we have these:

And allow people like this to roam free and spew hatred —

But the height of irony is that SBY’s government has relentlessly pursued ethnic minorities who have peacefully called for independence in the country’s eastern regions of Papua and the Molucca Islands.

Last year, one protester was killed and 13 were arrested during a demonstration in Papua. A few months later, the government brutally suppressed the Papuan People’s Congress, beating dozens and killing three people. While protesters were jailed and charged with treason, the police chief in charge of security that day was promoted.

Almost 100 people remain in prison for peacefully protesting. Dozens are ill, but the government has denied them proper treatment, claiming it lacks the money. Even the Suharto dictatorship allowed the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit political prisoners, yet the Yudhoyono government has banned the I.C.R.C. from working in Papua.

And yet, when the Islamic Defenders’ Front (FPI) threatened to overthrow SBY amidst the public’s call for its disbandment, the government’s response against this treasonous act was exactly what it has done in the past in dealing with the FPI:

Meanwhile, the FPI has done the following activities … in order to defend Allah:

Jan. 12, 2012: Demonstrators, including many FPI members, ransacked the Home Ministry office to protest Minister Gamawan Fauzi’s clarification of nine bylaws on alcoholic beverages, which they assumed were revoked.

Nov. 14, 2011:Vigilante groups in Bekasi, which included FPI members, entered an Ahmadiyah mosque in Jatibening and called on members of the group to halt Friday prayers.

Aug. 20, 2011: Hundreds of FPI members demonstrated in front of the SCTV television station over its plan to broadcast “?” the movie on the night of Idul Fitri. SCTV bowed to the protest.

Aug. 1, 2011: FPI took to the streets in Bandung to demonstrate against the consumption of alcohol. They seized at least 50 jerry cans of traditional alcoholic brew, tuak.

May 4, 2011: FPI held a memorial to pay tribute to Osama bin Laden, who was killed in a US intelligence operation in Pakistan. They prayers were led by patron Habib Rizieq Shihab.

Feb. 10, 2011: FPI warned that it would overthrow SBY if he dared to disband any mass organization, including the FPI.

So instead of Pretty Boy Julian dismissing the people clamoring for the withdrawal of the award as narrow-minded, he should actually assess the message that the public is sending.

Because it is the same public that will trash the Democrat Party of the president in next year’s elections.

About Asmartrock

N. Mark Castro is the chief political communications strategist for PT AsiaLeads, a political and communications policy-making body based in Jakarta, Indonesia. He is also the Executive Director at the Southeast Asia Consulting Group, an investment advisory company assisting clients roll out their presence for the ASEAN Economic Integration in partnership with government. The views posted here are his own and do not in any way reflect the views of the companies he represents.

Posted on May 21, 2013, in General, Politics, Religion and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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