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Racial Prejudice and Discrimination in Indonesia - Essay Example

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Racial Discrimination in Indonesia: Discrimination against Ethnic Chinese Racism is one of the major pressing problems facing the Indonesian society. Unlike countries like South Africa or United States where racism is based on skin color, racism in Indonesia is evidenced by discrimination based on religion and ethnicity…
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Racial Prejudice and Discrimination in Indonesia
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Racial Prejudice and Discrimination in Indonesia

Download file to see previous pages... These features are biologically engineered. Examples are Negros, Bushmen, Melanesians, Chinese, Japanese and Germans. On the other hand, the term ethnicity describes particular cultural and sometimes physical traits that are used to classify people into different groups that are considered to be distinct from others. These include religion, language, skin tone, beliefs and customs. Indonesia is a home to people of diverse races and ethnicities ranging from Austronesia-speaking descendants, Melanesians, Japanese, Sundanese, Madurese and ethnic Malays to foreign races and ethnicities like ethnic Chinese, Europeans among others. The country has approximately 300 ethnic groups with each group having its own cultural identity. However, the general Indonesian culture has been influenced greatly by people of other cultures like Indians, Chinese, Arabs and Europeans as evidenced by the presence of the religions of the mentioned groups in Indonesia. Information from the 2010 Indonesian census reveals that 87.18% of the Indonesian citizens identified themselves with Islam, 6.96% with Protestantism, 2.91% with roman Catholism, 0.72% with Buddhism, 1.69% with Hinduism and 0.05% with Khong Hu Chu religions. This has given rise to a cultural complex with a deviation from the original indigenous cultures. Freedom of religion is one of the rights guaranteed by the Indonesian constitution. However, the government recognizes only six religions namely Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, Islam, Buddhism, Confucianism and Hinduism. In regard to this, there is an Indonesian law requiring all citizens to possess an identity card that identifies every individual with one of these six religions. Despite the perceived protection of persons belonging to the six recognized religions, inter-religious and ethnic conflicts and discrimination have been witnessed in Indonesia and these mainly target ethnic Chinese and the government has been on the forefront in perpetrating this. Generally, anti-Chinese behavior in Indonesia existed right from the colonial times taking the forms of restrictive legislation, language use and violence. During colonialism, the movements of ethnic Chinese across the country were restricted. They were forced to live in ghettos and were required to possess a special pass when moving out of their residential district. This was done to enable the colonial government to monitor and control their activities and to make sure that no social, economic and political interaction occurred between them and the rest of the Indonesian population. The government, under president Sukarmo, enforced the PP 10, a biased legislation that prohibited Chinese and foreigners from conducting business in Indonesia (Chernov and Kamal, 2010). In the New Order era, Suharto, the former Indonesian president, proposed the Anti-Chinese law, a discriminatory law which prohibits anything related to Chinese culture in Indonesia including names, religions/expression of Chinese beliefs, Chinese festivities and celebrations. Under this era also, the political atmosphere was transformed radically and there was massive eradication of political parties and organizations. There was also a restriction of the political activities of the ethnic Chinese and a banning of the Chinese mass media. The official language in Indonesia is Malay. This means that ethnic ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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