The survival of the constitution as it stands is at the heart of Indonesia’s future: either it is a dead letter, or its protections are still in force. That is Indonesia’s choice in the coming years. It is indeed in the crosshairs, however, just as the national doctrine of Pancasila itself is under fire from Islamic supremacist revisionists.
Calls for the protection of religious freedom from Pope Benedict XVI tend to provoke strong responses from Islamic supremacists. Earlier this year, he was accused of staging “an attack on the hearts of Muslims,” like some hardcore superhuman, octagenarian Chuck Norris pontiff. Since he is suggesting violations of Sharia, even these gently delivered comments may cause offense.
“Vatican: Pope urges freedom for Indonesia’s Christians,” from AdnKronos International, October 7:
Vatican City, 7 Oct. (AKI) – Pope Benedict XVI on Friday appealed for religious freedom and tolerance for Christians in Indonesia, where Muslim extremists have carried out attacks on churches, opposed their construction and tried to shut them down.
Islamic law forbids the construction of new churches and the repair of old ones. More moderate Islamic countries just make it difficult and dangerous. Indonesia in particular has a permit system that looks even-handed on paper, but stacks the deck against Christians who must seek the permission of the Muslim majority to build.
“Indonesia’s constitution guarantees the fundamental human right of freedom to practice one’s religion,” the pontiff told a delegation of Indonesian bishops visiting the Vatican.
Islamic law forbids the propagation of non-Islamic religions:
“The freedom to live and preach the Gospel can never be taken for granted and must always be justly and patiently upheld. Nor is religious freedom merely a right to be free from outside constraints,” Benedict said.
“It is also a right to be authentically and fully Catholic, to practice the faith, to build up the Church and to contribute to the common good,” he added.
The pope urged the bishops to foster inter-religious dialogue in overwhelmingly Muslim Indonesia, where Christians are a religious minority.
“Your country, so rich in its cultural diversity and possessed of a large population, is home to significant numbers of followers of various religious traditions”, he said.
Groups like the Islamic Defenders Front are working hard to fix that.
Muslims form 86.1 percent of the population , protestants 5.7 percent, Roman Catholic 3 percent, Hindus 1.8 and other religions 3.4 percent of the population in the ethnically diverse nation of 245.6 million people, according to the last census in 2000.
“By doing everything possible to ensure that the rights of minorities in your country are respected, you further the cause of tolerance and mutual harmony in your country and beyond,” Benedict concluded.
But what would be the fun in that for the Islamic supremacists?