Asia

Indonesian Envoy: “My country committed to protect Shia Muslim minority”

indoIn the wake of recent spate of violence against Indonesian Shias, the country’s ambassador to Tehran says his government is committed to protect Shia Muslim community.

In an interview with IRNA on Sunday, Dian Wirengjurit noted that Jakarta has no problem with Indonesian Shias and respects them as part of the nation.

Referring to attacks against the Shia community in Indonesia’s Madura Island in recent months, the envoy noted that disputes between Muslim groups in the region are simply rooted in tribal and ethnic differences and should not be interpreted as discrimination against Shia minority in Indonesia.

Shia Muslims have recently become common targets for violence and discrimination in Indonesia.

On August 26, hundreds of people armed with sickles and swords hacked a Shia man to death and torched more than 30 houses in the town of Sampang in the East Java Province, forcing villagers to seek refuge at a nearby sports hall.

In late last December, Shias in Nangkernang were attacked by Sunni extremists who set fire to hundreds of homes and a Shia school, forcing 500 people to flee their villages, according to Human Rights Watch.

Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation of 240 million people, is hailed as a bastion of moderate Islam, but rights groups say religious intolerance is on the rise amid concerns that too little is being done to address it.

Although Indonesia’s constitution explicitly guarantees freedom of religion, rights groups argue that the country has become less tolerant over the past decade and the government is turning a blind eye to the problem.

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