Religion, Law and Intolerance in Indonesia. By Tim Lindsey, Helen Pausacker. London and New York: Routledge, 2016.

Date01 September 2018
Published date01 September 2018
Religion, Law and Intolerance in Indonesia. By Tim Lindsey, Helen
Pausacker. London and New York: Routledge, 2016.
Reviewed by Stijn C van Huis, Consultant Indonesian Law and
Society, Specialist Indonesian Islamic family law, Indonesia, The
Lindsey and Pausacker’s edited volume gives valuable insights
into how freedoms and rights derived from human rights instru-
ments are subject to translation, interpretation, and contextualiza-
tion when adopted into national legislation of a Muslim-majority
country. The book focuses on the constitutionally guaranteed
freedom of religion in Indonesia—a “core human right” adopted
from the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The essays describe how the democratization process that fol-
lowed the stepping down of President Suharto in 1998 has led to
the paradox of “increased religious freedom in principle but less
freedom in practice” (6).
The 18 essays are spread over five parts and a conclusion: Part
I: State Regulation and Religious Freedom; Part II: The Politics of
Religious Intolerance; Part III: Civil Society, Pluralism and Intol-
erance; Part IV: Violence and State Responses; Part V: Discrimina-
tion and Vulnerable Groups; and the Conclusion. The strength of
the book is that the issues of religious freedom and intolerance in
post-Suharto Indonesia are viewed from the three perspectives of
law, governance, and society. This results in a comprehensive and
convincing explanation of why intolerance in Indonesia became
more antagonistic at a time amendment to the constitution
increased freedom of religion. A minor weakness of the volume is
that there is quite some repetition between the essays as explana-
tions of vital legal issues and incidents reappear in multiple essays.
Part I serves as the legal context for the case studies that follow.
The authors explain how the Indonesian Constitution has made
enjoyment of religious freedom conditional to “legislation protecting
the rights and freedoms of others” and, among others, “religious
values” (23, 45). They explain how the newly (in 2003) established
Constitutional Court issued several rulings that endorsed the gov-
ernment’s right to limit the scope of religious freedom: either by
introducing the legislation intended to protect women—for instance,
in the cases of divorce and polygamy, or by allowing the state prose-
cution of deviant teachings to guard the six state-recognized reli-
gious mainstream religions. In these judgments, the Constitutional
Court has treated Islamic law “as the touch stone for good or bad,
Book Reviews 821

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT