New Bill Aims To Recognize Other Faiths

Indonesia officially recognizes six religions: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. The government is now realizing that this rule actually contradicts freedom of religion, rather than encouraging it. They realize many Indonesians practice traditional religions, and are not being recognized. The Religious Affairs Ministry is now working to officially recognize the country’s indigenous religions through a bill on the protection of religious followers, which … [Read more...]

177 Indonesians Detained for Posing as Filipinos

A group of Indonesians were trying to go on hajj, but were detained in Manila because they had forged Philippine passports. Vice President Jusuf Kalla says the travel agency should take responsibility, and that the Indonesians are victims, not suspects. It is believed that they were going on Filipino passports because Saudi Arabia gives every country a hajj quota, and the current Indonesian quota is much smaller than the people who want to go. The current waiting list is 20 years, costing … [Read more...]

10 Years Since Mud Volcano Began Spewing

It has been almost 10 years since a mud volcano in Sidoarjo began spewing. Since then, the mud has covered an area equal to 650 football fields, completely burying several villages and displacing thousands of people. Thirteen people died when an underground gas pipeline exploded as a result of the spewing mud. Many of those people lost jobs and now are trying to make a meager living through “disaster tourism”, guiding people through the volcano area. To this day, the volcano has not stopped. … [Read more...]

Christian Woman Caned Under Shariah Law in Aceh

For the first time ever, a non-Muslim woman has been caned under Shariah law in Indonesia. Remita Sinaga was found guilty of selling alcohol, which is illegal in Aceh. Mrs. Sinaga is a Christian and is 60 years old. She received 28 lashes after spending 47 days in jail. Several people have spoken out against this. One of the pastors at Mrs. Sinaga’s church said, “We don’t defend her [breaking the law]. [But] our concern is that the law isn’t in line with the national penal code. … Shariah law … [Read more...]

Multiple Blasts in Jakarta

On Thursday, January 14, at 10:50 a.m., a bomb went off near Sarinah Shopping Center. Over the next few minutes, more bombs went off, including one in a Starbucks. In the hours that followed, police engaged in gunfire with the terrorists. It wasn’t long before ISIS confirmed that they carried out this attack, stating, “In a unique security operation, a group of Islamic State soldiers targeted a group of Crusader citizens who are fighting the Islamic State in Jakarta,” the statement said. “May … [Read more...]

Female-only Motorcycle Taxis Becoming Popular in Indonesia

Motorcycle taxis, or “ojeks”, are a popular form of public transportation in Indonesia. Ojeks are typically men, which has caused problems for a couple of reasons. For one thing, conservative Muslim women will not ride a motorbike with a man unless he is a relative because they believe that Islam forbids this. The other reason is safety. There have been reports of attacks on women by ojeks. As a result, several female only motorbike taxis, inspired by Uber, have begun. Ojek Syari, or “Ojesy” … [Read more...]

Who are the Trans Migrant Javanese?

By far, the largest people group in the country of Indonesia is the Javanese. The most densely populated island in the Indonesian archipelago of over 13,000 islands is Java. For this and other economic reasons, the government sanctioned a massive relocation program during the 1970s -1980s in which millions of Javanese farmers moved to rural locations in Sumatra. There are 15 million of them which makes the Transmigrant Javanese the largest people group on Sumatra - over twice the size of the … [Read more...]

Who are the Pakpak Boang?

The 18,000 Pakpak Boang live in the Singkil area of the southern part of Aceh Province in Northern Sumatra, Indonesia. The Pakpak Boang are part of the Pakpak or Dairi Batak tribe, but are often mistaken for Singkil people. Boang is comes from the Indonesian word “buang” which means to discard or throw away. They chose this name for themselves because they felt discarded by the rest of the tribe when then decided to leave Christianity to follow Islam. What Are Their Lives Like? Most Pakpak … [Read more...]

Who are the Deli?

The two million Deli and Asahan Malay live along the eastern coast of North Sumatra. Deli villages are clustered along the coast, and often include not only Deli Malay people, but also people of other ethnic backgrounds such as Javanese and Minangkabau. They live on the banks of rivers and near the ocean in marshy areas that often flood. What Are Their Lives Like? The Deli typically work as fishermen or traditional farmers. The fishermen work in the Straits of Malacca between Sumatra and … [Read more...]

Who are the Bonai Malay?

There are 14,000 Bonai Malay. They live in the western part of the Riau province, which is in central Sumatra. What Are Their Lives Like? Until recently they were considered “foreign” by their own government because of their refusal to enter into the modern world. But in this generation, all of that has changed. The Bonai Malay have embraced a more modern way of life. They are sending their children to school. They are welcoming electricity and other tools into their villages for the first … [Read more...]