For release: July 29, 2011

Government needs to speak up for religious freedom around the world

The Australian Christian Lobby said the recent lenient sentences handed down on the mob attackers of a minority Muslim sect in Indonesia, should raise the concern of the Australian government about the lack of religious freedom in Indonesia.

Managing Director Jim Wallace said it was shocking that the defendants were given between three and six month sentences for minor charges but were not charged with murder or manslaughter despite three Ahmadis being killed in the February attack.

“Despite the fact that the horrific and brutal murder of the Ahmadis was caught on camera and uploaded to the internet showing the world how members of the mob used machetes and rocks to stop the sect from worshipping, the Indonesian government failed to prosecute its members for this vicious attack on religious freedom” Mr Wallace said.

“We have a responsibility as a just and compassionate nation to respond. Australian values are built on parables like that of the Good Samaritan, and we cannot just turn away from injustice against our neighbours. I urge the Australian government to make representations to Indonesia on this terrible ruling. Christians were similarly suffering from attacks by Islamic extremists in Indonesia and also required the protection if the law.

Mr Wallace said he was also concerned about the attacks on the Nuba, a predominately Christian people group, in North Sudan in the last month where the local government has sought to ethnically cleanse the region of the people who peacefully protested against the local government’s recent elections.

“Australia has become home to many Nuba people after they’ve fled the civil war that engulfed their nation. They’ve been hearing stories from family and friends of people going missing, beheadings and attacks on churches,” he said.

“It’s imperative that the Australian government speaks out on the issue of religious freedom and makes representations to Indonesia and North Sudan about this basic human right,” he said.