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UN rights chief warns against rise of intolerance in Indonesia

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein on Wednesday criticized [statement] Indonesia's increasing public attitude of religious intolerance and urged the government to address it.

Zeid also criticized the country's blasphemy laws as "ill-defined" and described them as a weapon to oppress minority religious groups.

In the country's current political climate, the High Commissioner noted political parties are utilizing the populace's rising intolerance for political gain. He noted the Indonesian government is currently in the process of amending its criminal code [text] to bring about even more discriminatory policies against the nation's minorities.

"If Muslim societies expect others to fight against Islamophobia, we should be prepared to end discrimination at home too. Islamophobia is wrong. Discrimination on the basis of religious beliefs and color is wrong," said Zeid.

Zeid commended Indonesia's open criticism of human rights abuses committed by Myanmar against its Rohingya minorities. At the same time, he pointed out that Indonesia still needs to provide redress for victims who suffered atrocities committed by the government, militias and Muslim militias against members of the nation's ethnic minorities, non-Muslims religious minorities and those accused of being Communists in 1965.

"But of course all States are fragile and all of them works in progress. This country is no exception," Zeid added

While the High Commissioner did commend the country's president for taking steps to promote human rights, he maintained the country still has a lot of progress to be made.

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