TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The Advocacy Coalition for Freedom of Religion and Belief commended the Indonesian Religious Affairs Minister Yaqut Cholil Qoumas for congratulating the Baha’is on celebrating the Naw-Ruz.
The congratulatory statement was uploaded to Youtube by the Baha’i Indonesia channel and has actually been available on the social media platform since March 26. It is only now that his statement attracted various responses.
“We think the minister’s statement is a form of acknowledgement on the freedom of religion and faith that are close to each and every individual as a basic human right,” said Paritas Institute director Penrad Siagian in a press conference on July 30.
Gadjah Mada University’s Center for Religious and Cross-cultural Studies (CRCS) director Zainal Abidin Bagir explained that the Baha’is had existed in Indonesia far before the country’s independence.
“However, there were not many Baha’i adherents and in number they are not more than other religious followers. But this cannot be used as a reason to discredit and discriminate its followers,” Zainal said. “The Baha’is in this country are Indonesians who have their rights guaranteed by the Constitution.”
He noted that freedom of religious belief was guaranteed under the 1945 Constitution’s Article 28E and Article 28I, which mandated religious freedom as one of the basic human rights.
The coalition urges the government and public in general to cut the chain of hatred and discrimination against minority groups such as the Baha’i.
In response to the minister’s statement, YLBHI head Asfinawati said the use of the term "official and recognized religion" is an obsolete term and did not correspond with the spirit of reformation and democratization in Indonesia.