There appears to be a state of official denial of how conditions for religious minorities in Indonesia have deteriorated, even just in the past 10 years. Officially, Indonesia is still modern, moderate, and tolerant, and that’s that. Everything is fine on paper, so everything must be fine in reality. “37 Indonesian Christians to Be Deported From US This Month,” from Antara, February 3:
A group of Indonesian Christians to be deported from the United States despite voicing fears of religious persecution at home are scheduled to return on Feb. 29, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday.
That group of 37 will be joined by 58 more in November, Foreign Ministry spokesman Michael Tene said.
The 95 Indonesians, who spent the last 20 years in Garrison City, New Hampshire, are joining at least 70 more of their countrymen living in New Jersey who received similar notices from US immigration authorities.
They had all been petitioning US officials for a bill that would allow them to reapply for asylum after missing a key cut-off date.
Tene on Friday urged the citizens to abide by US laws.
“These are our citizens who have entered the US and their stay permits have expired. Therefore, we appeal to them to abide by the existing rules,” he said.
Tene also said that their fears of being persecuted at home were not a valid reason for the Indonesians to seek asylum in the United States.
“Their reasons are not true because no one is threatening their religious freedom in Indonesia.”
He said the state guarantees religious freedom in Indonesia, and that cases of religious persecution were isolated incidents.
“There has never been a conscious or systematic effort to suppress minority groups. All kinds of groups and religions are allowed to exist in Indonesia,” he said.
There has indeed been a systematic effort to suppress the Ahmadis, and the government has turned a blind eye to persecution of Christians by thugs like the Islamic Defenders Front and local governments like that of Bogor. For that matter, there is a major difference between “allowed to exist” and genuine freedom of religion.