Indonesia historically has been a Muslim nation which accorded freedom of religion to those who were not Muslim, but in recent years there has been a dramatic shift away from respecting the dignity of those who seek another religion. The Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace issued a report which indicates state agencies, radical groups and community organizations have been violating minority rights. The most recent incident was several days ago when a Jewish synagogue was sealed by a mob protesting Israeli policy in Gaza. Fighting in Gaza undoubtedly has acerbated violence against non-Muslims, but even before the Israel invasion minority groups were being harassed in the name of uniformity. The Serata Institute cited “the rising persecution against the Jamaah Ahmadiyah” Muslim sect as an example of fanatic fundamentalist Muslims obtaining support from the government to close down opposing voices.
The report notes the police were involved in 121 cases of religious intolerance, regent and mayors in 28 cases and 52 others involved courts and other government agencies. A 2008 government decree requires official permission to build religious places of worship. The purpose of such legislation is to decrease the right of minorities to freedom of religion.