Home > Article > Islam and democracy can co-exist: Indonesia

Islam and democracy can co-exist: Indonesia

Indonesia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Raden Muliana Natalegawa has said that Indonesia has moved from being an authoritarian state to one of the world’s largest democracies, proving that Islam and democracy can co-exist.

At the 10th meeting of the Community of Democracies, held in southern Poland, Natalegawa said his country represents the embodiment that democracy, Islam and modernity can go hand in hand. More than 10-year after the fall of the Suharto dictatorship, Indonesia has transformed into the world’s third largest democracy and is today proof that democracy and Islam can go hand in hand,” he said.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also attended the global meeting on democracy. Although Indonesia launched the Bali Democracy Forum about two years ago, to promote cooperation in the field of democracy and political development among Asian countries, the vast archipelago was attending the global Community of Democracies meeting for the first time.

The island nation has had four presidents since Suharto resigned as leader in May 1998 amid mass street protests and the Asian financial crisis, but only current leader Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was directly elected. The economy is among the largest in Southeast Asia, and with China and India, Indonesia was one of just three G20 members to post economic growth at the height of the global economic crisis in 2009.

But critics say human rights abuses and corruption remain rampant in the post-Suharto era. Suharto died two years ago without facing justice over billions of dollars he allegedly stole from government coffers, while victims of the many human rights abuses under his rule are still seeking recognition. Some 80 percent of the population of some 243 million Indonesians are Muslim and around one in five Indonesians lived below the poverty line in 2006.

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