Separation of State & Religion

Jul 14th, 2006, in News, by

The Jakarta Post continues its lone battle against sharia.

Despite the fact that the Indonesian language press have now largely lost interest in the sharia issue the Post keeps on battling, although since hardly anyone of importance reads the Jakarta Post the effort is of limited use. The Post yesterday quoted a number of parliamentarians and scholars who continue to oppose the appearance of strict morality laws in the provinces as evidence that the separation between the state and the majority religion of Islam is weakening.

Muslim scholar M. Dawam Rahardjo said people misinterpreted secularism as a principle that was opposed to religion. Instead, he said, it defined the separation of the state and religion but fully respected and protected the freedom to practice one’s beliefs.

Right now, there is no such thing as freedom of religion. People with different beliefs, like Lia Eden, are considered infidels and are tried and imprisoned. Secularism is actually the best solution for a multicultural society like ours.

He added that it was up to the central government to take action to end the chaotic situation.

The government must be firm not to allow any potential that can violate civil rights.

While politician Eva Kusuma Sundari, of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), warned that there was a highly systematic and co-ordinated movement behind the enforcement of a string of sharia-inspired by-laws and it was able to generate a lot of grassroots support.

It still needs to be confirmed, but in politics, there are no coincidences. There have been different groups with the same method, the same argument and the same agenda — that is to back the fundamentalist movement. These groups defended radical groups who have committed destruction, and backed sharia-inspired bylaws.

The divisiveness of the religiously charged issue also has been apparent among legislators. In June, 56 House members filed a petition against sharia-inspired bylaws in several regencies and municipalities that they deemed unconstitutional, gender-biased and a threat to splinter the country.

However, 134 legislators issued a counter petition, arguing it was up to the local administrations to decide their policies.

Eva said it would take a systematic, but peaceful, mechanism to counter the fundamentalist movement, such as through education and public awareness campaigns.

We need to be united, otherwise it won’t work. We need to remind people about the contract signed by the founding fathers about the form of the nation. We need to show them that there is no single country in the world which implements sharia law and at the same time succeeds in upholding democracy.

Christian scholar Benyamin Intan from the Reform Center for Religion and Society said the fundamentalist movement, which was against the separation of the state and religion, may create a backlash again formal religion that occurred in western Europe.

Some countries were ‘traumatized’ because religion is seen as the source of trouble.

Several regions continue to impose bylaws with a focus on morality and the conduct of women. The bylaws include a prohibition against women going out alone at night, or risk arrest for soliciting, and the obligation for women civil servants to wear Muslim attire.

Eva believed gender-biased bylaws would worsen poverty in the country, because international data showed a strong correlation between a low gender development index and the incidence of poverty.

In Cianjur, West Java, she said, home industries were on the brink of bankruptcy due to sharia-inspired bylaws and increasing unemployment of women.

In Tangerang, low-paid women teachers could no longer supplement their income by working additional hours into the evening for fear they would be arrested on suspicion of prostitution on their way home.

4 Comments on “Separation of State & Religion”

  1. O. Bule says:

    Good for the Jakarta Post. If it is true that it is the ony newspaper in Indonesia that is speaking up against the stupidity of Sharia law, then the shame is on the rest of the newspapers in Indonesia for not doing so. Sharia law is the way that Taliban-like extremist, murderers gain power. I pray to God that Indonesians do not allow this stupidity to overtake them.

    O. Bule

  2. badai ismatu says:

    The only thing that Indonesian could do in regard to the need of separation between religion and the state is to amend its own Constitution mentioning the phrase on religious matters like in Article 29 of UUD 1945 (such as that the state guarantees religious life in many respect) as well as to omit the First Principle in Pancasila (Ketuhanan Yang Maha Esa) that from the first time erupted controversial debate and uneasy feeling among religious groups. Without this effort, separation of both seems to be a waiting for godot.

    Taking account religious matters into state political affairs means that the society themselves has given ‘unpaid bill’ to the ruler to get involve, penetrate and to regulate and in some sense can infringe the freedom of religion itself. I am now doing my research on this kind of issue comparing many countries and I found that those regulations on religious affairs in Indonesia indeed serve for the interest of majority group rather that for the betterment of all citizens. Here, I feel ashame to my collegues and friends who belong to minorities.

  3. Andrew says:

    Separation of State & Religion = the way to go.

  4. Ismayanto Prihandariyanto says:

    Thanks Dawam !!! I have collected your books for perhaps 10 years ! You have great ideas. Actually the problems don’t happen to Muslims only. The Christians like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and even Bush are among the bigotries. The Jews have Meir Kahane and the terrorists like Eden Natan Zada, and Baruch Goldstein, The Buddhists also in Thailand want to promote a Buddhist state !!! But again the problem happens deeply in some Muslim brothers!.
    The problem in the teaching of Islam is that the hardliners or Islamists is that they believe the idea that the past is everything good. They believe in pseudo idea that under Islam everything was good ( it is same with the idea of the Zionists and Christian zionism!!!),
    So, I think that is an obligation to all believers ( whatever his faith ) that we should unite to enlighten to our own community, that secularization is the will of God ,Himself!!!

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