The Role of Morality in Religious Persecution in Indonesia during Yudhoyono's Presidency (2004-2014)

Research output: ThesisMasters Thesis

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Acts of intolerance and persecution against religious minorities rose significantly in Indonesia during the presidency of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (2004-2014), despite the nation's constitutional guarantees of religious freedom. This thesis aims to understand the motivations for and justifications of the persecution of Christians and Ahmadi Muslims in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country. It details the extent of the problem, explains how it differs from previous periods, and examines the actors including Islamist activists, conservative Muslims, President Yudhoyono, his ministers, state institutions, religious minorities and the public. A key question was: what role did morality play in the rise of religious persecution in Indonesia? And further: why do people do “bad” things in the name of “good”? Drawing on Haidt's moral foundations theory, the thesis explores the ideological narratives of Islamists and situates those within global Islamist narratives. Data sources include media reports,
scholarly literature on Islam, Islamism and Indonesian politics, as well as interviews conducted in 2014 in Bogor, West Java, with residents, activists and members of local Muslim and Christian faith communities, including the Ahmadiyah community. Morality is theorised as an evolved response to threat, wherein ideological narratives are created that cast outgroups as threats and sanction the ingroup’s righteous self-defence from the threat, real or imagined. In this way, morality plays a role both in motivating the persecutory actions of Islamists and in justifying those actions after the fact.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationMaster of Arts
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Sydney
  • Vickers, Adrian, Principal Supervisor, External person
Award date14 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2017


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