Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Indonesia, including attacks on minorities

Delivered in Plenary - 7th July 2011

Madam President

The attacks on members of the Ahmadi Christian community in Indonesia are symptomatic of a worrying trend in many Muslim societies, even those like Indonesia that are considered relatively enlightened under their system of Pancasila.

Ahmadis, who, having been expelled from Pakistan now happen to have their global headquarters in London, my constituency, are considered apostates by mainstream Sunni Islam. The penalty for apostasy under Sharia is the death penalty. Thankfully Indonesia, whose functioning democracy has made great strides in recent years, does not widely practise Sharia law except in Aceh.

However, the government needs to do more to promote tolerance and protect religious freedom across this vast and geographically fragmented country. In particular Indonesia’s political leaders should no longer turn a blind eye to those who seek to sow hatred and violence through exacerbated religious tensions and differences, and they must criminally prosecute all those who are carrying out such atrocities against minorities.

As well as lifting the ban on Ahmadis, the government should revise all decrees and the blasphemy laws, which are used effectively to prevent Christians and others from building new places of worship. We in Europe expect such high standards of Indonesia precisely because it is a pluralist democracy.