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Indonesian Court Issues Landmark Ruling in Favor of Religious Freedom

Protests against Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, Christian governor of Jakarta

Indonesia on Tuesday amended its rules through a court decision that opens the door for the lawful practice of faiths that had not officially been recognized in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.

The ruling by the Constitutional Court allows followers of religions outside the country’s six official ones to list their faiths on their national ID cards.

“This decision will be an important milestone for the elimination of discrimination based on religion and belief,” said Bonar Tigor Naipospos from the human rights group Setara Institute.

A 2013 Indonesian law has long required citizens to declare themselves as Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Buddhist or Confucian in order for them to gain state benefits, including access to education, the justice system and marriage registration.

In its unanimous ruling, the court said that the four-year-old law and a similar 2006 law were not legally binding because they contradicted the Constitution by not accommodating followers of faiths outside the recognized state religions.

“It’s a relief because it has been a long journey. It is not easy to face discrimination,” Dewi Kanti, a follower of Sunda Wiwitan, a religious system practiced by Sundanese in West Java province, told BenarNews.

The next challenge, Kanti said, would be to use this ruling to eliminate regulations deemed unconstitutional because of religious tests.

“There should be no more term ‘recognized’ or ‘unrecognized religions,’” she said.

About 90 percent of Indonesia’s more than 260 million people are identified as Muslim, but the country also has small but influential Christian, Hindu and Buddhist populations.

Full story: BenarNews

Ismira Lutfia Tisnadibrata
Jakarta

Copyright ©2017, BenarNews. Used with the permission of BenarNews.

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