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Rising Bigotry Makes Extremism Easier: Survey
Ulma Haryanto | September 23, 2010
Jakarta. The recent forcible shuttering of churches and Ahmadiyah mosques, as well as the recent attack on two protestant church leaders, do not come as a surprise to two key organizations that track intolerance in the country.
Both the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) and Lazuardi Birru, an independent organization focused on combating extremism, have said religious prejudice was on the rise here, leading to a higher potential for people to become radial in their views
Clear signals of religious intolerance among Indonesians came out of a national survey the groups carried out earlier this year, according to Lazuardi Birru chairwoman Dhyah Madya Ruth.
Dhyah said on Wednesday that the nationwide survey was conducted across all 33 provinces from March 26 to April 6, and involved 1,320 randomly selected respondents, the majority of whom were Muslims.
She said the survey results were compiled into a “radicalization vulnerability index” to show how vulnerable Indonesian Muslims were to being radicalized, and the highest factor contributing to the vulnerability was intolerance.
“Our survey revealed that dislikes against certain religious groups also influenced their actions and views,” Dhyah told the Jakarta Globe on Wednesday.
As many as 63.8 percent of the survey’s respondents would object if other religious groups built houses of worship in their neighborhoods, while 51.6 percent objected if groups from other religions held a religious event in their area.
Meanwhile, 47.8 percent would have no objection if somebody outside Islam became a state official, and 32.4 percent would object.
The numbers differed slightly for those simply active in political parties – 51.3 percent said they had no objection while 25.6 percent objected .
“From this result, if the expectations [of state leaders] are that Indonesian Muslims are already tolerant enough to the groups that they dislike, including Christians, then they are clearly out of touch,” Dhyah said.
The survey showed that 1.3 percent of the respondents had once attacked houses of worship of other faiths, and that 5.3 percent would do the same if they had the chance.
“Intolerance against groups that the respondents disliked increased their involvement in radical actions or support for radical actions,” Dhyah explained.
The survey was launched as part of an effort by the organization to understand how vulnerable Indonesian Muslims were towards radicalization efforts.
“We are concerned about the level of radicalism in this country,” Dhyah said. Lazuardi Birru had been using the data as its reference in creating programs to deter radicalization in youths.
Separately, Bonar Tigor Naipospos, deputy chairman of the Setara Institute, said that mobile puritan and relatively intolerant groups were spreading their influence at the grass-roots level.
“It could be the FPI [Islamic Defenders Front], and could take other names,” he said.
Bonar said it was impossible that the government was unaware of the survey’s conclusions, because in every religion there were always hard-line views.
“It’s just a matter of how the state could protect the citizens from such views…. The reluctance of government to take a stand had a lot to do with religion being a sensitive issue,” he said.