The past week has seen the President, SBY, supposedly send a letter to President Obama asking him to prevent a clown pretending to be a pastor somewhere in Florida from going ahead with a plan to burn the Koran. Supposedly, the letter talked about religious tolerance and the need for Obama to show some leadership on this front. This post is not going to be a critique on the pros and cons of burning books, or even more particularly religious tomes, but it will pick up on the religious tolerance theme.
If religious tolerance is such a concern Mr. President, then why do you remain silent when your citizens are finding themselves victimised and the victims of violent attacks because they follow a minority faith in your country?
Mr. President, if you are a real leader of men and women, then why is it that you cannot ensure that the constitutional rights your people have to practice their faith is not only enforced but protected from those who seek to create an Islamic state?
Mr. President, religious tolerance is a two-way street. You cannot have your cake and eat it too! If you want to talk the talk, then perhaps it is time to walk the walk. I wonder, if President Obama was to send you a letter asking you to be more pro-active in promoting religious tolerance in Indonesia, maybe even specifically President Obama may mention a Batak Christian congregation being hounded and victimised in Bekasi, would you do it? Would you take a principled stand and enforce the Constitution and the prevailing laws to ensure that these fellow human beings of the Christian faith were protected from those seeking to do them harm?
The truth be told, religious tolerance in Indonesia is quite often nothing more than an intellectual academic debate among elites...those at the coal-face see every single day the ugly side of religious intolerance. It is time, Mr. President, to practice what you preach.