Despite being predominantly Muslim countries, Indonesia and Kazakhstan scored differently on religious hostilities by private individuals, organizations or groups in society, according the Pew Research Center’s latest annual study on global restrictions on religion.
The study, released on June 23, 2016, showed there was a decline in the share of countries with high or very high social hostilities involving religion, which dropped from 27% to 23%.
Pew’s Social Hostilities Index measures act of religious hostility, which includes religion-related armed conflict or terrorism, mob or sectarian violence, harassment over attire for religious reasons or other religion-related intimidation or abuse.
Out of the 198 countries included in the study, Kazakhstan were among countries scored low on social hostilities involving religion at 0.0 to 1.4 points while Indonesia were among those scored high at 3.6 to 7.1 points as of the end of 2014.
According to Kazakhstan statistics agency, the country’s population was 17,280 million by July 2013 and according to a 2009 census, roughly 70% people in the country acknowledged Islam as their religion, followed by 26% Christian, while about 205 million or 88% of Indonesia’s population is Muslim and both countries’ Muslims adhere to Sunni Islam.
The low scores on social hostilities involving religion in Kazakhstan and Indonesia corresponded to another study by Pew in 2012 that asked Muslims in both countries whether suicide bombings and other forms of civilian targets are justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies. In Kazakhstan, 93% said such attacks are never justified and 81% in Indonesia responded the same.
But 46% in Indonesia and 28% in Kazakhstan said they were very concerned about extremists religious groups in the country, while 53% in Indonesia and 46% in Kazakhstan said they were mostly concerned about Muslim extremists group.
Both countries have also experienced deadly attacks by militants this year. In Indonesia, four civilians were killed in the bomb and gun attack by suspected Islamist militants in Central Jakarta on 14 January.
Six people were killed at a national guard base and firearms stores in Aktobe on 5 June and Kazakh government said the attack was carried out by “followers of radical, non-traditional religious movements”, using the term normally refers to Islamist militants in the country, according to a Reuters report.
Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev’ said in a statement posted in Kazakhstan embassy to Indonesia’s Facebook page on 8 June in light of the attack that his government would “take the most stringent measures to suppress extremists and terrorists” and urged his people to be vigilant, stop all incitement to violent and illegal acts and help the law enforcement agencies.
“Extremism and terrorism have threatened the security of not only our country, but also of the whole world. The people of Kazakhstan fully understood the necessity of strengthening the anti-terrorism measures that were taken by the law enforcement agencies across the country following the attacks,” the president said.
The attack came just after the country hosted an international conference on religions against terrorism in its capital city Astana on 31 May, with representatives from religious groups and parliamentarians from around the world in attendance.
Indonesian politicians from United Development Party (PPP) who are members of House of Representatives and People’s Consultative Assembly, M. Arwani Thomafi and Mukhlisin were among the participants.
During the conference, Thomafi said the Indonesian delegation conveyed that Indonesia is no exception in facing terrorism, extremis and radicalism as global threats and its parliament is in the process of revising its counterterrorism law in a bid to make it more effective in preventing and combating terrorism.
“Indonesia called on the participants to promote and encourage a more moderate religious understanding and a more humanistic religious messages in order to create a peaceful world,” Thomafi told The Parrot.
The conference participants issued a joint statement and took into account about “the growing importance and role of inter-religious dialogue, international cooperation, political and inter-parliamentary diplomacy in ensuring the spiritual and legal foundations of global peace and security, strengthening the unity and effectiveness of universal human principles as well as common religious values and rights.”
They urged the international community to join efforts to counter terrorism and underline the need to continue the constructive dialogue among parliamentarians and religious leaders and to support President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev’s “The World. The 21st Century” manifesto.
President Nazarbayev proposed this manifesto last year during his address at the United Nations General Assembly. It aims to establish a global anti-terrorist coalition under the auspices of the UN and to adopt a UN comprehensive document on countering terrorism, in accordance with the provisions of the Global Counter-Terrorist Strategy and the UN Security Council resolutions.
PPP lawmaker Thomafi welcomed the proposal, saying that it was also expressed in the participants’ statement that called on the international community to unite in combating terrorism.
The statement also said that the participants expressed their “shared determination to fight ceaselessly against those who create, finance and arm terrorist organizations for their own interests.”
In light of fight against terrorism funding and joint efforts to combat terrorism, Indonesia and Kazakhstan have signed memorandums of understanding to cooperate on counter terrorism and exchange of information on money laundering and terrorism funding during President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s state visit to Kazakhstan in September 2013.
Listyowati, director of South and Central Asian Affairs at the Foreign Ministry said among the five Central Asian states in Former Soviet Union, Kazakhstan has the strongest commitment for bilateral cooperation with Indonesia, which was marked by President Nazarbayev’s state visit to Indonesia in April 2012. President Yudhoyono reciprocated the visit in September 2013.
“It was the first visit of an Indonesian president to a post-Soviet state since President Suharto visited all five post-Soviet, Central Asian states in the 1990’s,” Listyowati told The Parrot.
Thomafi said the conference demonstrated that global political and religious leaders now had more concerted efforts in preventing facing terrorism, extremis and radicalism.
He also said he could conclude from the congress both Kazakhstan’s executive and legislative branches have a strong commitment in combating terrorism.
“It is evident in Kazakhstan being able to convince international figures of its efforts, not just being an initiator but also as a global pioneer, in combating terrorism,” Thomafi said.
Given its regional leadership and geopolitical situation that borders China and closely neighbors with Afghanistan, Listyowati said the country has a role to play in maintaining regional stability, which would impact on Indonesia.
“We also take into account the role of Kazakhstan and other Central Asian states to voice the interests of Muslims countries to the world,” Listyowati said.