Freedom of worship is a democratic right and no government or religion should infringe on it. Unfortunately, Indonesia is on the downside of this perspective. Indonesia’s mainstream Muslim society and government are active in the persecution of a the Gafatar religious movement which, ironically, has Islamic roots.
To make matters worse, even Indonesian journalists who should be the advocates for freedom of expression are contributing to this disturbing state of affairs, whipping up Indonesia’s persecution of the Gafatar. Recent reports by Indonesian journalists on a woman who left her husband to join Gafatar have whipped up persecution of the Gafatar. Andreas Harsono has written more about this story in an article in Human Right Watch According to the article,
In early January 2016, journalists in the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta chatted about a doctor who had left her husband, moving to Kalimantan Island and joining a back-to-the-land movement called Gafatar.
Journalists working for various Indonesian media outlets reported that her husband had filed a “missing person” report with the Yogyakarta police, saying she’d been “abducted.” They darkly portrayed Gafatar as having “deviant teachings” against Islam, suggesting the movement tricked her into joining. Some journalists even looked for other “disappearance” cases.
These journalists predictably helped to generate public hysteria around Gafatar.
On January 15, 2016, mobs armed with sticks, clubs, and machetes threatened Gafatar farming communities with violence if they did not leave Kalimantan. Government officials and police officers visited their communities to pressure them to comply. Three days later, Malay militias attacked the Gafatar farms. A cell phone video shows police officers and military personnel standing by as a mob damages property and burns down eight communal houses.
Full story found here.