Recent cases of religious intolerance in Indonesia have led some
observers to worry that U.S. President Barack Obama’s praise of
religious tolerance in Indonesia during his visit in November 2010 was
exaggerated. Public statements and decrees from Indonesian government
officials have discredited religious minority groups and exacerbated
conflict between minority religious groups and the largely Sunni Muslim
population in some Indonesian communities.
Contemporary state officials in Indonesia often consider religious
freedom issues through the lens of their particular political interests.
For example, it has become popular lately among government officials to
restrict and marginalize religious minority groups. Their efforts range
from banning worship or religious practices and restricting access to
jobs based on religious dress codes, to turning down permits to build
places of worship and implementing conservative interpretations of
Islamic law. They mistakenly believe that these actions will ease
conflicts and increase their own popularity.
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