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  • Print publication year: 2018
  • Online publication date: February 2018

12 - Christians and Multireligious Citizenship in Muslim Indonesia


Indonesia is unusual among today’s Muslim-majority countries in the degree to which non-Muslims, and especially Christians, have long played a prominent role in the political, economic, and cultural life of the nation. That role has been buttressed by the country’s official political ideology, known as the “Five Principles” or Pancasila, as well as by constitutional clauses that enshrine the principles of religious freedom and citizen equality. However, since the transition to democracy after the fall of President Suharto’s “New Order” regime in May 1998, movements of a militant Islamist nature that reject Pancasila pluralism have grown in number, as have outbreaks of anti-minority and anti-Christian violence. This article examines the nature and extent of anti-minority and anti-Christian conflict in Indonesia, and highlights the varied strategies developed by Christians to respond to discrimination and to the rough-and-tumble nature of Indonesian democracy. Research confirms that the political tack favored by the great majority of Christian leaders is collaboration with the still large number of Muslim citizens committed to Pancasila citizenship. Although the Indonesian example is not fully generalizable, it offers several generalizable lessons for Christians and other religious minorities in other Muslim-majority lands.