Interpreting our Constitution.

Mar 4th, 2011, in Opinion, by

Interpreting the Indonesian constitution

It is either deep confusion or lack of bravery (which then seems to manifest into idiocy) that our government is brilliant at when it comes to finding a viable and enduring solution towards the on going case of Ahmadiyah. One example of such idiocy is an opinion tragically & thoughtlessly uttered by a member of Commission VIII of the People’s Representative Council (DPR), HM Busro (Ahmadis should live on isolated island: Legislator - The Jakarta Post, 02/17/2011) .

He simply proposed to move the Ahmadis to one of our 17.000 inhabited islands, away from modern civilization, away from any form of adequate infrastructure and perhaps away from any form of contact with any other human being other than the Ahmadis themselves. It is as if the Ahmadis are dangerous, wild, brainless animals that must be secluded from the rest of our society in order to fulfill the notion of “for the good of our society.”

This foolish, inhumane idea if indeed becomes a reality is nothing but a sick interpretation by a member of our government on how to preserve our fragile domestic national security whilst trying to fulfill our constitution, it is but a foolish attempt towards trying to balance the two.

Easily put, he is saying, “oh yes let us acknowledge and uphold religious freedom/pluralism by placing the minority in a secluded island far from society”, such absurdity.

This idea and other already materialized laws such as the joint decree of the three ministers, have shown us two probabilities. One, is the immense fear within our government towards taking the necessary steps in fully implementing our constitution or two, our government basically does not have a strong stance on what our constitution should imply. I on the other hand, personally see it at as a mixture of both.

Our government is witless to actually define a clear interpretation of our constitution, which in fact it urgently needs to formulate a clear policy in tackling critical social issues such as religious disputes. A clear policy that reflects our government’s main stance in solving these sort of critical matters.

Basically what I am questioning here is simple, is our government secular or does it base it’s policy making towards a certain religion?

It certainly cannot be both for our governments attempt to finding a balance between the two has resulted in confusions in constructing the much needed policies. Policies which needs a clear definition of our constitution on which the policies are literally based on.

Without first answering and realizing this crucial question our government will constantly fashion policies that has a muddled fundamental basis to it. Resulting in policies that has only raised more questions than answers.

Laws ranging from the infamous blasphemy law to the joint decree of the three ministers are prime examples of this recklessness. With these laws the government is now able to penetrate the personal lives of its citizens thereby to a major extent controlling on what we should or should not believe in. They are slowly without doubt steering our perception on major personal issues, issues such as the case of Ahmadiyah. It is but a discreet form of brainwashing if I may add.

With the blessings from our government in the form letting the Ahmadis suffer for the past recent years, our society will then gradually follow this act of negligence.

And since blasphemy seems to be such a crucial issue amongst many Indonesians due to religion having a major role in our society’s identity, wide spread discomfort may form and when there is discomfort, conflict may arise much easily. This is all due not solely because of the incorrect interpretation of our laws such as the joint decree of the three ministers but it goes much deeper which is because of out government not having a single strong stance towards this critical case. Which again it is because they do not have a clear interpretation of our constitution.

Churning policies only to satisfy the wants of the people but not their needs will only be a temporal solution of the issue at hand. We need a long term solution towards this case and it can only construct a long term solution once it has strong basis for that solution.

Our society may become the most religiously diverse society and even become the most religious and spiritual society the world has ever seen but our government must never have a religion. It needs secularity to maintain it’s neutrality and this is what we do not have.

Our current government has meddled too much in our personal lives. It is far from being neutral. How far actually is our government’s authority in defining a certain belief as blasphemy? Is it not clearly stated in our constitution that we as Indonesians have the freedom and rights to choose on what ever we choose to believe in? If we are only allowed to express something that does not offend, then where is the freedom? What is left for freedom in Indonesia is limited to the fear that we are afraid to offend an individual or a collective of individuals.

Blasphemy is only to be decided not by the government but amongst the conflicting parties themselves. State neutrality must be upheld, our government’s role must be neutral meaning that it must protect and ensure the safety of both conflicting parties and without a hint of doubt punish those who uses violence to instill their beliefs. Furthermore, as long as Ahmadiyah does not preach of hatred, our government should not limit its movement. Indonesia is not Pakistan that due to its constitution can define on what Ahmadiyah is.

Sadly in the end, the solution for Ahmadiyah comes down to on how our government interprets our constitution. A constitution which to my known knowledge has shown a high appreciation for religious pluralism. Rather opposite seeing the recent events don't you think?


60 Comments on “Interpreting our Constitution.”

  1. avatar Lairedion says:

    Cannot agree more and I love your blog, especially your pics of a gig paying tribute to Ahmadi victims. That’s awesome….

  2. avatar Odinius says:

    Shouldn’t these provincial “bans” be going to the Constitutional Court?

    To give an example, several US states have passed “anti-Sharia” bills. These are, without any doubt, unconstitutional. So they go to the courts, which will inevitably find they violate the First Amendment. Most other stable democracies have similar instruments for interpretation of the law. This is how it SHOULD work.

    Courts, not politicians or street level activists, need to be the ones deciding what’s constitutional and what’s not. This is democracy 101.

  3. avatar Oigal says:

    Great post..
    I could almost understand, find it repugant, disgusting, ignorant, bigoted even treasonous but understand these people taking the stand they do. However, the people twisting and making these utterances must either thing the people are complete morons or they themselves are by pretending they have the law or morality on their side.

    Be a complete utter bigoted lowlife if you must but don’t try and pretend for a second that was the intent of the founders of Indonesia or even will the will of the people now.

  4. avatar S ahmad says:

    I m shocked to lean that on demands of violent, the innocent are dePrived of their fundamntal rights. is it rule of law? , is it government for the People ?

    Why the government is not strong enough to reject violence and spreadof hatred. Y community with motto ” love for all hatred for none” is such bag threat to peace in country. What’s the fear, the community will soread .. Well y?

    Read about ahmadi Muslims at www. Alislam . Org

  5. avatar realest says:

    Oigal said: “Be a complete utter bigoted lowlife if you must but don’t try and pretend for a second that was the intent of the founders of Indonesia or even will the will of the people now.”

    I would like to think the founders of Indonesia wouldnt like Ahmadiyahs, ideologically or by peer pressure, even if they live today because they’re muslims and i’ve yet see any muslims give a sympathetic view on the Ahmadiyahs apart from the violence they’re getting. One of my colleagues brought back a leaflet couple of weeks ago from their friday prayers that was distributed at the istiqlal mosque and that mosque near sampoerna strategic square calling for a ‘peaceful’ march against ahmadiyahs towards the istana president. it struck me that even kantor people, which i consider more moderate and tolerant, have a bad taste for ahmadiyahs because they didnt seem to mind.

    nobody here likes competitions particularly religious ones since christianity are already taking a notable chunk from the population and the ahmadiyahs are just another roadkill.
    Thomas Jefferson: “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.”

  6. avatar Hans says:

    I agree with you, fantastic and incredible immaturity. this government would need a Inga-Britt Ahlenius, which can keep the politicians in Indonesia in the EAR. she is a Swedish auditor, public servant and shapes Under-Secretary-General for United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services, She is HARD FANTASTIC WONDERFUL MAGNIFICENT AWESOME LOVELY.

  7. avatar SLatif says:

    The Government of Indonesia is claiming that we are Muslim, practicing the teaching of Islam but their actions are against the teaching of Islam and the Holy Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him). In chapter 2 verse 257 Allah says “There should be no compulsion in religion”.
    Islam re-en forces the concept of humanity and respect for individual liberty. It also reminds man of his fundamental human right of being free to choose his own religion Please visit http://www.alislam.org read the believe of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
    Indonesian Government is under pressure of fanatics, not thinking straight. Please wakeup. Allah is watching your actions and you are answerable to him

  8. avatar Humanity says:

    It is a great article describing the lack of will to implement the constitution and/or the rights of minorities to live peacefully.
    I am a very proud Ahmadi Muslim. It is so hard for me to understand the blasphemy logic of the opponents because of the fllowing two reasons:
    a) We, Ahmadiyyah, are Muslims due to Kalima Tayyaba like any other sect of Islam.
    b) We, Ahmadiyyah, believe that Mesiah and Mehdi has come while others are still waiting for his decent.
    How does acceptance of Mesiah and Mehdi makes Ahmadiyyah blasphemous? If so, will the other sects of Islam also become blasphemous when Mesiah and Mehdi decends?

  9. avatar jari says:

    Very good article, eyeopener for the rest of the world. One’s believe is a matter between him and GOD or whomever one worship. If the teaching or beliefs are wrong or not logical, people will not accept, why Muslims have to fear of other religions or ideas, why we are so insecure. As Allah has said in the Holy Quran, ” there is no compulsion in religion” ( religion word is used not Islam) that means in case of any religion, there is no compulsion. And after this God says in the same verse that truth has distinguish itself from the falsehood, that means true criteria for truth of any religion is the truth itself in that particular belief of religion or idea. No truth, no acceptance from other people. Is banning any idea or religion is the way to go? why not ban Christianity/Judaism or Hinduism? This is so obsured. God could have banish Himself all the wrong religions or ideas, but he did not, it is true He sends His prophets to guide the humanity but He even does not tell his prophets to use force and convert all of them to your religion. Tell me one example when a religion used force to accept its truth. Although force has been used against all the founders and the followers of true religion to stop them from accepting the true religioin. Imagine what would have happened when African Americans struggled for their rights in USA back in 60’s, should the US government have banned the black color all together because they were supposedly a threat to the while majority. Imagine how world would have responded to this. But this is happening in Indonesia in 21st century, banning Ahmadiyya is not a solution to the country’s problem but wait if it continues it will be the biggest problem to deal in Indonesia, when these mullahs will not stop demanding more and more, who will be the next to ban? Government should take necessary action and educate the people about true concept of religious tolerance and harmony rather than giving into mullahs. Hopefully the wise government of the President would ban the mullahs who spread hatered among people living in perfect harmony for so many years.

  10. avatar Irfan says:

    The issue is not about Ahmadiyya only but its about also basic very very basic human rights of being free spirit to believe what one want to believe. Indonesia will improve in all spheres if they learn to entertain the approach of basic fundamental respect tolerance but most important having dignity to disagree without violence. Its country of great people and great thinkers who can make change in society by atleast start talking openly and writing about it. That day will not be far away where rest of the world will BAN them for not what they believe but what the exercise in day to day life as Nation. Do not ruin the innocent humanity or do,nt call for help later if wrath of Nature get you as wrath of God.

  11. avatar realest says:

    Question: Why did Muslims, Syiah(shiite) and sunnih alike, hates Ahmadiyahs so much?

    Answer: For muslims, Muhammad was the last prophet and even He do not dare claim he was a God much less a messiah. For Ahmadiyahs, this guy claims he’s the messiah and mujaddid, someone who revives Islam after a certain period of time. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirza_Ghulam_Ahmad

  12. avatar Oigal says:

    Most people know what the grievance is. What they don’t understand and or condone is the violence, bigitory and absolute ignoring of the country’s laws with immunity by some sections of the community. Let this bastardary go unchallenged who’s next?

  13. avatar realest says:

    I would be the first to agree that the laws of the land has no willpower to provide adequate protection on almost every level and even went as far to say that 100,000 Indonesians will return should the government fix the infrastructure and most of all the law. It can be said those with alternative options have made peace following jungle rules and keeping mum seems to be the best card anyone could play. An Obama story will never happen here, people seem bent on segregation and picking minor differences between themselves.

  14. avatar Patrick says:

    Interesting comments from some of the regulars here on IM. However, all have failed miserably in their arguments as they have omitted either deliberately or by sheer negligence that the constitution of Indonesia recognizes only five official religions. This itself places limits on what is acceptable and tolerable to the government concerning religious beliefs. This is not the same as constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion as found in the United States and where there is little interference in religious affairs except in situations where religious beliefs are in conflict with individual rights. An example of this is polygomy, whereas, the USA government declared such practices unlawful and sought legal remedies to prosecute practitioners. The Indonesian government’s Ministry of Religious Affairs can constitutionally interpret what is acceptable or not concerning religious practices in Indonesia.

  15. avatar Oigal says:

    “alternative options have made peace following jungle rules”

    Not sure many would call 1500 cowards descending on 20 or so others and beating 3 people to death, desecrating graves and burning their homes/places of worship “making peace”. “Keeping Mum” would seem to be the worst option and a bit late as the whole world has seen the commitment of the government to the most basic concepts of the rule of law.

  16. avatar thierry says:

    SLatif, Islam also reinforces the concept of dhimmi. In essence, dhimmis are second-class citizens in an Islamic society. That’s as far as the Islamic tolerance goes.

    SLatif says: Allah is watching your actions and you are answerable to him.

    Which God ? The God who says it’s OK to eat pork and to keep your foreskin, or the Islamic Allah, or the Jewish Jahweh who both say that eating pork is not OK, but circumcision is ?

    One should learn to live with people who believe in other Gods, no matter how crazy their beliefs are, without attacking them for their beliefs. And similar respect should be shown to atheists.

  17. avatar nobody says:

    Let me write this more clearly for the logically impaired (you know who you are):

    Imagine your self, going to a football match, say, sit in the liverpool fan’s side of the stadium.. but you wears a tshirt with a “liverpool sucks” in big letters on it.
    The nearby liverpool fans duly lynched you on sight.

    Now, who did the biggest wrong?

  18. avatar Oigal says:

    Eeer the Morons who did the lynching!!

    Is the concept you don’t have to the right to take someone’s life so hard to grasp. Let alone act like a bunch of cowardly animals not fit to breed or feed.

  19. avatar Oigal says:

    Oh of course, another difference would be the morons who did the lynching would now be serving life sentences for murder not cuddling up for tea and biscuits with other elected ignorant cowards, thugs and bullies.

  20. avatar Sanity says:

    Please understand that I am Muslim and do not wish to portray myself as being any one of the numerous sects. I would like to make a couple of comments:

    1. The “recognized religions” is not part of the Indonesian Consitution nor has it ever been. It was by presidential decree.

    2. I am just curious. If Jesus were to come a second time would his prophethood be stripped by Allah before he came down? I personally think that this is ludicrous.

    3. The common belief amoungst Muslims is that Jesus is currently alive in heaven and will physically come down as the Messiah. Part of the Messiah’s mission is to guide the Ummah to the right path. So this means Jesus, a Jewish Prophet, will reform the Ummah. This does not make sense either.

    4. I find the belief that Jesus is alive in heaven at the right hand of Allah and that Muhammad (SAW) is dead and buried in the ground curious. If this is the case, who is the greater prophet Jesus or Muhammad (SAW)? It seems that by default the mainstream Muslim belief would indicate that Jesus is greater then Muhammad (SAW). May Allah forbid such ludicrous beliefs.

    I as a Muslim declare beyond a shadow of a doubt that Muhammad (SAW) is the greatest creation of Allah and that no man is his equal. I reject any view that will place Jesus in a higher position then the greatest personage of Muhammad (SAW). I reject any view that would proport a non-Muslim prophet to reform the Ummah. By the Quran and the Hadith it is impossible for a prophet to not come after the Prophet (SAW). The belief of the Ahmadis is fully consistent with the teachings of Islam. If I were to proport to be part of any sect I would definitely be Ahmadi. After all Muhammad (SAW) called the Mullahs “the worst creation on earth”. They prove this fact time and time again.

  21. avatar Sanity says:

    For my esteemed fellow human “Nobody”:

    Let me make it clear for the logically impaired:

    If a Muslim proports his belief that Muhammad (SAW) is greater then Jesus in a predominantly Christian nation and is lynched…

    Who has done the greater wrong?

    I really love your logic. Keep it up. We need people like you to show how human’s can be morons.

  22. avatar Alm757 says:

    @ Realest regarding Coming of Prophets in Islam:
    God Almighty says in Holy Quran : And Whoso obeys Allah and this Messanger of His (Muhammad) shall be among those on whom Allah has bestowed His blessings namly the Prophets, the Truthful, the Martyrs, and the Righteous. and excellent companions are these (Al-Nisa 4:70).
    Think how much you believe in Quran, you believe on one part of Quran and disbelieve on other part of Quran, Is that a right belief?
    Please think righteously, Allah says in Holy Quran that this book is a Guidance for Righteous (2:3)—- Who are Righteous, those has Fear for Allah.
    Please visit http://www.alislam.org for true teaching of Islam. God bless you all

  23. avatar Alm757 says:

    God (Allah the Almighty), the creator of this universe, Who cause you to born, give you the wisdom to choose right and wrong (if you think positively and choose the right path you will find your creator the God and if you choose the other way means a wrong path you are crossing NO-Entry sign and will face the consequences of choosing wrong way), God the creator of this Universe also provide food to every one according to his ability. Thus be righteous to your Faith. Visit http://www.alislam.org for true concept of God.

  24. avatar Patrick says:

    @Nobody “the biggest wrong” is not the issue I attempted to have clarified but rather what is and is not constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion in Indonesia. If you go back and read most of the previous posts you will conclude many of them were confused or ill informed. And yes I do know who I am 🙂

  25. avatar benlaksana says:

    @Sanity please do not go into a theological debate here. there will be no end to it. you are merely trying to justify your beliefs while using your subjective logics to do so.

  26. avatar Oigal says:

    Based on Nobody’s logic the next time I see an someone in Indonesia wearing a “we love Bin Laden” t-shirt, I can gather 20 (sorry make that 1500 in keeping with the trend) and kick him to death. After all I find it offensive and it disturbs my inner peace.

    Patrick, If you are going to be highlight that people are negligent or failing in their arguments it would be best if you did some basic fact checking first. The constitution does indeed promise freedom of religion in plain unambiguous language.

    The restrictions on the number of religions is not relevant and is changed at a whim (by the way it’s six now not five). As Sanity pointed out

    The “recognized religions” is not part of the Indonesian Consitution nor has it ever been. It was by presidential decree.

    The Indonesian government’s Ministry of Religious Affairs can constitutionally interpret what is acceptable or not concerning religious practices in Indonesia. Its certainly does that but it should not, as the Ministry is neither technically or legally qualified to make such rulings.

    Indonesia has long prided itself as being neither a secular nor a religious state but as one inspired by the religiously inspired ideology of Panca Sila. You will hear it all the time and overall not a bad set of principles. One as to ask where people like Nobody, the FPI and for that matter the government currently fit into the below.

    1. Ketuhanan Maha Esa – Devotion to God
    2. Kemanusiaan yand adil dan berahad – Human society which is just and characterized by mutual respect
    3. Persatuan Indonesia – The unity of Indonesia
    4. Kerakyatan yang dipimpin oleh hikmat kebijaksanaan dalam bermusyawararan/perwakilan Society governed with wise justice in the context of mutual consultation and assistance
    5. Keadilan social baga seluruh rakyat Indonesia – Social justice for all of the people of Indonesia.

    One as to ask where people like Nobody, the FPI and for that matter the government currently fit into the above.

  27. avatar ET says:

    @ Sanity

    Let me make it clear for the logically impaired:

    If a Muslim proports his belief that Muhammad (SAW) is greater then Jesus in a predominantly Christian nation and is lynched…

    Who has done the greater wrong?

    But they do it all the time and guess what? They aren’t lynched but are given equal status as a recognized religion.

    Maybe you should consider changing your name to InSanity.

  28. avatar Oigal says:

    Eeer ET… I think that was Sanity’s point..She was being sarcastic and repeating Nobodies nonsense back at him with a couple of minor changes to the groups involved.

    You might be judging a bit harsh this time, you need to read what the great Nobody posted earlier, its up there with his other “goldie” seatbelts and exhaust emissions being a plot to oppress the Indonesian nation. 😉

  29. avatar Oigal says:

    Oh but I do agree the my God is better than your God is a road to nowhere..

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