Indonesian Groups Call for Minority Religious Protections

By Max Walden | VOA News

JAKARTA — Interfaith and human rights groups gathered in Jakarta, Indonesia, this past week to show their support for Meiliana, an Indonesian Buddhist who was sentenced to 18 months prison in August for complaining about the volume of the call to prayer in the town of Tanjung Balai, North Sumatra.

The case has again brought the Muslim-majority country’s controversial blasphemy laws to the fore, with religious minority groups concerned it signals further erosion of their rights amid rising Islamic conservatism.

In a declaration, the groups called for the release of Meiliana, saying she was “recently imprisoned for expressing her personal opinion peacefully.” The statement was signed by Amnesty International, leading bodies representing Christian, Hindu and Confucian Indonesians, and the Alliance of Independent Journalists Indonesia.