Why is religious intolerance on the rise in Indonesia?

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Indonesian hardline Muslims react after hearing a verdict on Jakarta's first non-Muslim and ethnic-Chinese Christian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama's blasphemy trial outside the court in Jakarta, Indonesia May 9, 2017. (REUTERS)
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Indonesian hardline Muslims react after hearing a verdict on Jakarta's first non-Muslim and ethnic-Chinese Christian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama's blasphemy trial outside the court in Jakarta, Indonesia May 9, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 09 May 2017
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Why is religious intolerance on the rise in Indonesia?

JAKARTA: A guilty verdict and two-year jail sentence for Jakarta’s Christian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama on blasphemy charges have fueled concerns about the erosion of religious freedoms in Indonesia.
Faith-based tension has been mounting in recent years in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, undermining its pluralist reputation.
Here are three points that explain the issue:
Indonesia has often been praised for its moderate, inclusive brand of Islam, and the constitution guarantees freedom of worship for six religions.
However the archipelago’s sizeable religious minorities — mainly Christians and Muslim Shiites and Ahmadis — have been increasingly targeted as more conservative forms of Islam grow in popularity.
Some Christian churches and mosques where Muslim minorities pray have been closed due to pressure from hard-liners. Shiites and Ahmadis — regarded as heretics by some Sunnis — have been forced from their homes in mob attacks and on occasion even killed.
In one of the most high-profile cases, a group clubbed, hacked and stoned three defenseless Ahmadis to death in front of police in 2011 in western Java, sparking international outrage.
During the three-decade rule of dictator Suharto, authorities sought to run the country along secular lines, largely keeping religion out of public life and limiting the influence of hard-line groups.
Following Suharto’s downfall in 1998 and Indonesia’s transition to democracy, more conservative forms of Islam — often influenced by harsher brands of Middle Eastern Islam — have had space to flourish.
The new freedoms have allowed the growth of hard-line groups, such as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), and successive governments have been criticized for failing to tackle the radicals for fear of being accused of attacking Islam.
“Post-Suharto, there has been quite a significant ‘Islamization’ of society,” said Bonar Tigor Naipospos, deputy head of Indonesian rights group Setara Institute.
“As long at it is to enhance people’s and society’s obedience to God, that’s okay, but we are now seeing a different phenomenon — the rise of radicalism.”
Hard-line groups such as the FPI, once considered fringe organizations, played a key role in organizing protests against Purnama, and analysts say they will feel emboldened after his jailing and last month’s election loss.
The accusations that Purnama insulted Islam centered on comments he made during a speech in September last year ahead of the vote for the next Jakarta governor.
He lightheartedly accused his opponents of using a Qur'anic verse to trick people into voting against him.
A video of his comments was posted online, sparking fury across the nation and leading to mass protests in Jakarta.
The saga, which led to Purnama being hauled into court to face trial on blasphemy charges, was seen as having contributed heavily to his loss to a Muslim opponent in a ballot he had been expected to win.
Yohanes Sulaiman, an analyst from the Indonesian Defense University, said the country’s image as a bastion of tolerant Islam would “suffer” following the court decision.


New Quebec law stresses migrants’ skills, thousands must reapply

Updated 37 min 20 sec ago
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New Quebec law stresses migrants’ skills, thousands must reapply

  • The law is similar to a proposed plan from US President Donald Trump that would shift his country’s visa system from family-based immigration toward bringing in more skilled workers
  • The law will attempt to more closely match the skills offered by would-be immigrants with the needs of the labor market in Quebec

MONTREAL: The Quebec provincial legislature on Sunday approved a controversial immigration bill that will replace a first-come, first-served standard for accepting migrants with one tied to an applicants’ skills.
The law is similar to a proposed plan from US President Donald Trump that would shift his country’s visa system from family-based immigration toward bringing in more skilled workers.
The law will attempt to more closely match the skills offered by would-be immigrants with the needs of the labor market in Quebec, Canada’s second most-populous province.
Under the new law, some 18,000 applications now on file will be shredded, affecting as many as 50,000 people, many of whom already live in the province.
The 18,000 existing applicants will have to restart the immigration process.
The provincial government promised to expedite processing of their new applications, saying qualified workers would have answers within six months rather than the current 36 months.
The 62-to-42 vote on the bill took place around 4 am (0800 GMT) at the end of a marathon session convened by the governing center-right Coalition Avenir Quebec, immigration minister Simon Jolin-Barrette announced on Twitter.
“We are modifying the immigration system in the public interest because we have to ensure we have a system which meets the needs of the labor market,” Jolin-Barrette told the National Assembly.
All three opposition parties opposed the measure, calling it “inhuman” and saying the government did not justify dropping the 18,000 pending applications.
“Honestly, I don’t think this bill will be seen positively in history,” Liberal Party MP Dominique Anglade said, according to the Montreal Gazette. “It’s the image of Quebec which gets tarnished.”
Premier Francois Legault’s government resorted to a special parliamentary procedure to limit debate over the proposal.
His party won power in October with a promise to slash by more than 20 percent the number of immigrants and refugees arriving each year in Quebec.
The assembly reconvened on Sunday and after sometimes-acrimonious debate passed a bill banning the wearing of religious symbols by public servants including police officers, judges, lawyers, prison guards and teachers.
However the new law will only apply to new recruits, with existing employees unaffected.
The proposal, also backed by Legault, puts the premier at odds with the multiculturalism advocated by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.