Citizenship Law Is Passed

JAKARTA ~ The national parliament has passed a controversial law requiring citizens to state their faith on official documents despite objections from a major political party.

The civil registrations bill requires citizens to declare one of the six official religions on their identity cards.

The move drew criticism that the bill discriminates against followers of religions that are not officially recognized. The state recognizes only Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism.

Permadi, a parliamentarian from the Indonesian Democratic Party Struggle (PDI-P) party who practices a traditional Javanese faith, said that “endorsing the bill would go against the constitution, which guarantees all Indonesians the freedom to worship.”

A plenary session of the House of Representatives passed the bill on Friday after tense debate over minority faiths between political factions.

Three parties – the secular PDI-P, the Christian Prosperous Peace Party and the Muslim United Development Party – initially rejected the final draft but later endorsed it with some reservations, including rewording of the state’s obligation to record the marriages of people from minority religions.

The bill does not allow for registration of faiths other than the official six. Marriages of people of other faiths are not officially recognized and their children are registered as born outside wedlock.

It was unclear if followers of minority faiths are permitted to record their religions on the census.

The new bill removed some requirements left over from the Dutch colonial era, including that citizens must register their ethnicity and race.

“We need more time to rehash this bill, but if this plenary session insists on endorsing it, we opt to sit out,” PDI-P faction leader Tjahjo Kumolo said.

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