The state of religious harmony and general security in Indonesia is officially in tatters, threatening to create a major hindrance in the country’s otherwise impressive rise. With the dust yet to settle over the killing of three members of the Ahmadiyah Islamic sect over the weekend, a mob ran riot in Central Java on Tuesday, torch two churches and damaging another in protest over a ‘light’ jail sentence given to a man convicted of blasphemy against Islam.
The sharp increase in religious-related violence has come as Indonesia’s economy posted growth of 6.9% for the last quarter of 2010 and its per capita income last year was recorded at over $3,000 for the first time, officially graduating the country to middle-income status. However, it has become painfully clear that economic growth alone is not enough to solve the country’s myriad problems and that the nation remains very far from being a civilized state.
If such violence is to be prevented in the future, Indonesia’s leaders will have to go further than issuing mild condemnations and fully tackle the often prickly and unpopular issues relating to democracy and human rights. In the absence of decisive measures, Indonesia will inevitably continue to slip back into the sort of sectarian violence that claimed thousands of lives and plagued many regions during the early post-Suharto period just over a decade ago