Post D: Freedom of Religion in Indonesia

Since the fall of Indonesian President Suharto in 1998 the public have begun expressing long suppressed views about religion, unfortunately many views are intolerant towards religious minorities.

A 1965 presidential decree demands all Indonesians adhere to one of six religions (Menchik 2014), which citizens were required by law to declare on national identification cards. The current Population Administration Law allows citizens to choose whether they declare their religious faith on ID cards. As this law only recognises six religions; Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Confucianism (Hertzke 2013), if a religion is not declared individuals risk being labeled as “godless” by Muslim clerics or officials and may be subject to blasphemy prosecution. (US Department of State 2011)

In 2012 a three citizens, a Shia cleric, a spiritualist and a self-declared atheist who had listed Islam as their religion were jailed for blasphemy (Kine 2014).

Even though Indonesian law protects freedom of religion, past governments have failed to make a significant effort to protect minorities or prosecute those responsible for the violence, intimidation and harassment. Unfortunately much of this can be linked to the previous government of president Bambang Yudhoyono, who ruled from 2004 to 2014.

In 2005 Yudhoyono gave a speech to the Indonesian Muslim Council (MUI), promising them “a central role in matters regarding the Islamic faith” and “pledging the government’s openness to their fatwas” (Rogers 2014). Within days of this, MUI issued a series of fatwas against people for heretical beliefs.

Protesters cover their mouths during a rally in Jakarta, demanding the president do more to protect their freedom of religion. (Dawn 2010)
Protesters cover their mouths during a rally in Jakarta, demanding the president do more to protect their freedom of religion. (Dawn 2010)

The constitution and other laws in Indonesia protect the religious freedom of their citizens, however certain laws and policies contradict this and restrict religious freedom, leaving some citizens unprotected by the government based on their religion.

Across Indonesia religious minorities have increasingly become the targets of violent harassment, intimidation and threats. In August 2013 a bomb was planted inside a Buddhist temple in Jakarta, injuring three people. The very next day Molotov cocktails were thrown into the yard of a Catholic high school in Jakarta. Over the last ten years Setara Institute has documented that cases of attacks on religious minorities has risen from 91 cases in 2007 to 220 in 2013 (Kine 2014).

 Police investigators gathering evidence inside the temple of Ekayana Buddhist Centre in Jakarta where an explosive device went off (Hariyanto, J. 2013).
Police investigators gathering evidence inside the temple of Ekayana Buddhist Centre in Jakarta where an explosive device went off (Hariyanto, J. 2013).

The central government has authority over religious matters but in some cases has taken no measures to overturn local laws restricting people’s rights based on their religion (US Department of State 2011).

Newly elected president Widodo faces a major challenge in stopping the rise of extremist Islamism and tackling increasing violence against minorities due to religious intolerance. After his election in July 2014 Indonesian minorities have gained hope as President Widodo is against radicalisation and proceeds against religiously motivated violence, punishing these acts severely (Heiligers 2015).


Dawn 2010, Religious Minorities in Indonesia Push Back, viewed 28 April 2015, <>

Hariyanto, J. 2013, Indonesian Police Arrest Three More Suspects In Buddhist Temple Bombing, The Wall Street Journal, 28 April 2015, <>

Heiligers, E. 2015, Harmony comes from religious freedom, EMS, viewed 28 April 2015, <>

Hertzke, A. 2013, The Future of Religious Freedom, Oxford University Press, United States of America

Kine, P. 2014, Indonesia’s Growing Religious Intolerance, Open Democracy, viewed 28 April 2015, <’s-growing-religious-intolerance>

Menchik, J. 2014, ‘Productive Intolerance: Godly Nationalism in Indonesia’ Comparative Studies in Society and History, vol. 56, no. 3, pp. 591-621

Rogers, B. 2014, ‘Indonesia’s Religious Tolerance Problem’, The Wall Street Journal, 24 February, viewed 28 April 2015, <>

US Department of State 2011, Indonesia, United States of America, viewed 28 April 2015, <>

Post C: House of Lawe

House of Lawe was started by a group of women who have dedicated their work to “Conserving Tradition, Promoting Culture, Empowering Women, Enriching Life” (House of Lawe 2015). The Sisterhood of Lawe is a program run by the House of Lawe to provide support to artisans, giving them strength and self-sustainability.

From West Sumatra to Maluka there are many traditional styles of weaving, each with their own motif and method of crafting. Many of the artisans are economically disadvantaged and therefore cannot afford to continue practicing their crafts (GEF SGP Indonesia 2014).

Hand woven textiles produced using eco-friendly dyed threads or “lawe” by artisans across Indonesia are sent to Yogyakarta, where the House of Lawe and the Sisterhood help develop the textiles into a product. By discussing design and market direction with the artisans they are able to transform the hand-woven textiles into a line of products such as bags, wallets and fashion clothing which are sold through a variety of outlets such as gallery stores, hotel shops or markets (GEF SGP Indonesia 2014).

House of Lawe showroom (N
House of Lawe showroom (Naningisme 2012)

The Lawe craft class in Yogyakarta provides women with technical and production skills, entrepreneur training and knowledge of sustainable practice so they have the capacity for maintaining successful and sustainable lives in their craftsmanship. The classes in Yogyakarta specialise in training women to utilise waste materials by cutting patterns effectively to reduce wastage of fabric. Any off cuts are supplied to other craft classes, which are recycled into new products (House of Lawe, 2015).

The sales profits are not given back to the group of weave artisans in the form of money but rather by enhancing their capacity to learn and improve their practice through providing equipment and skills training.

The Sisterhood provides the artisans with some income by purchasing their hand-woven textiles. They also fundraise through collaborations with initiatives such as “Tenun Untuk Kehidupan” or “Weaving for life” who have collaborated with young designers in Yogyakarta to produce a clothing range using the artisans’ hand woven textiles (House of Lawe 2015).

Weaving for Life
Weaving for Life Project (House of Lawe 2009)

The House of Lawe hopes to establish a Sisterhood in every area where local women practice traditional weave. This will lead to more support for the artisans, which will become the main economic driving force for these women.

For this model of organisation to be able to help the wider Indonesian community in becoming more sustainable in fashion and textiles production, House of Lawe will need to encourage other local manufacturers to practice the same sustainable standards. This could be a very long process as most business in the industry are privately owned and regulations are rarely enforced. In addition to this, ethical production standards will need to be better regulated and enforced.

Watch this short video produced by GEF SGP Indonesia about the House of Lawe to get more of an insight into this organisation.

Here are some opinions from Anna Sutanto about the House of Lawe and sustainable and ethical fashion. Her responses helped me understand this organisation from a local’s perspective and how they will have to continue working to build a sustainable and ethical industry in Indonesia.

Do you think Indonesia’s fashion and textiles industry is moving towards an ethical and sustainable future through organisations such as House of Lawe?

Yes, organization like House of Lawe certainly helps to introduce ethical and sustainable fashion standards to wider public, however to expect other industry to apply the same standards will require a long process especially as most textile industries are individually owned  and the regulation enforcement is weak.

In what ways do you think the industry can improve their sustainable practice?

By ensuring the production is truly sustainable, for example through the use of natural colour or colouring substances with less environmental impacts. From the website, they stated that they started to use eco-friendly colouring since 2014 and mainly to allow product for export. How about for local products?

Do you think the Indonesian consumer market is motivated to support sustainable fashion? why/why not?

Yes, especially for the like-minded people who already support ethical and sustainable fashion standard or for people who wants to purchase as the products bring prestige to the owners. However, I think Lawe’s products are mainly aimed for tourists or export market. To motivate Indonesian to support sustainable fashion, will be a sloowww process.

Do you support organisations like House of Lawe through purchasing their products? 

Yes, whenever possible and also depends on the state of my bank account.

What are your opinions about their products?

The products are beautiful, but some are not very practical to use.


GEF SGP Indonesia 2014, Sisterhood of Lawe, video recording, Youtube, viewed 27 April 2015, <>

House of Lawe, 2015, Lawe Craft Class, Indonesia, viewed 27 April 2015, <>

House of Lawe 2015, Weaving for life, Indonesia, viewed 27 April 2015, <>

House of Lawe 2009, Weaving for Life, Indonesia, viewed 27 April 2015, <×682.jpg>

Naningisme 2012, Showroom House of Lawe, Indonesia, viewed 27 April 2015, <>

Post B: Bank Sampah Gemah Ripah “The Prosperous Trash Bank”

As Indonesia experiences rapid urbanisation, population growth and household consumption rates increase, much more solid waste is created. As it is not sustainable for household waste to be burnt or dumped into landfill, Waste Banks are finding a more eco-friendly system for peoples waste management.

The concept behind Bank Sampah Gemah Ripah started in 2008 with Mr. Bambang Suwerda, a lecturer in the Environmental Health faculty at the Polytechnic University of Yogyakarta. The concept of Waste Banks was developed to address the environmental issues caused by waste produced by local communities (Ashoka n.d.).

The main purpose of Bank Sampah is to create a cleaner environment, which leads to a healthier environment. It focuses on the three R principle of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” as well as the philosophy behind the Indonesian expression “Gemah Ripah Tablets Jinawi” simply translating to “the prosperity and fertility of the land and its people” (Stevens: Schmidgall-Tellings 2004).

By developing a system using economic incentives, Bambang Suwerda has introduced a system of waste management that ensures participating households have sustainable waste separation practices that lead to environmental benefits for the local community as well as financial benefits for the household.

By adopting a system implemented by conventional banks, Bank Sampah is able to function as a traditional bank but with a unique difference. The Bank Sampah gives monetary value to household trash in efforts to encourage people to be responsible for their own waste management (Salim 2013).

Weighing waste (Bank Sampah, 2008)

The non for profit organisation functions with no cash box, using scales to weigh and value the customers waste donation, which is then put into sacks and stored in a warehouse (Slamet, 2009). Waste donations are collected from customers and either sold to appropriate buyers or used to make handicrafts. The Waste Bank takes 15% of revenue, which contribute to the operation and maintenance of facilities and infrastructure. Remaining revenue is deposited into the customers “Waste Bank savings account”, which they can withdraw from every three months, creating an economic incentive for customers to sort and donate their household waste (Diegenetika 2013).

Handicraft workers source recyclable plastic from the donated household waste to design and create bags and wallets, which are then sold.

(Desa Wisata Sidoakur, 2009)
Bags made from recycled waste (Desa Wisata Sidoakur, 2009)

Bambang’s Waste Bank has had success with involving members of community in responsible waste management, which has lead to the Ministry of Environment in Indonesia to adopt and replicate the model nationwide. Although this concept has been successful in reducing landfill and encouraging households to become more sustainable, it does not encourage behavioural change in the purchasing and sourcing of food. More education and community involvement is needed to be able to assist households with becoming more sustainable in aspects other than just sorting their waste.


Ashoka n.d., Bambang Suwerda, United States, viewed 12 April 2015, <>

Bank Sampah 2008, Weighing garbage, then recorded on the passbook, Flickr, viewed 13 April 2015, <>

Desa Wisata Sidoakur 2009, Kerajinan Dari Sampah Daur Ulang, Indonesia, viewed 13 April 2015, <>
Diegenetika 2013, Bank Sampah Gemah Ripah, Bank Sampah Bantul, Bambang Suwerda Indonesia, 12 April 2015, <>

Salim, R. 2013, Waste Not, Want Not : “Waste Banks” in Indonesia, World Bank Blogs, Indonesia, viewed 12 April 2015, <>

Slamet, S. 2009, Banking on the Environment, The Jakarta Post, Bantul Indonesia, viewed 12 April 2015, <>

Stevens, A.: Schmidgall-Tellings, A. 2004, Kamus Lengkap Indonesia-Inggris, Ohio University Press, Ohio, USA.

Post A: Muslim “Feysen” in Indonesia

Fashion design in Indonesia over the last 20 to 30 years has been shaped by political, religious and social pressures as well as modern design influence. Since the early 1990s the increased visibility of Islamic fashion in Indonesia has influenced the market to feature more modest Muslim trends alongside Western styles of dress.

The cultivation of an indigenous Indonesian fashion industry in which both neo-traditional and Western style clothing is celebrated, has played a key role in national development strategy in Indonesia. This development is not only economic but also cultural. (Jones, 2007)

Fashion or “feysen” in Indonesia is considered to be a strong component of national cultural growth. Scholars who agree the veil can have multiple political, social and personal meanings suggest the commodification of Islamic dress can dilute the political potential of Islamic identities when forms of dress become fashionable and trendy. (Ismail 2004).

The proliferation of Islamic forms of dress in Indonesia can be associated with a rise in Islamic Piety and consumerism as a result of an intersection of political, economical and cultural changes. This often causes dress and fashion to be the subject of debate over morality and nationalism (Jones, 2007). Some women who belong to religious minorities feel religion has become a tool for social pressure as they must cover and dress modestly in public places or the workplace even though this does not align with their religious beliefs.

A variety of Islamic dress styles are worn in Indonesia but over the last ten years the mosleum has become an increasingly popular form of Islamic dress.

As one of the leading muslim fashion designers in Indonesia Itang Yunasz believes in the essence of modern fashion design while keeping with modest cultural forms of dress.

15 years ago Itang Yunasz decided to dedicate his career as a fashion designer to exclusively focus on the Muslim market. (Jakarta Fashion Week 2014, para. 2)

(Yunasz, 2014)
Itang Yunasz showing at Jakarta Fashion Week 2014 (Yunasz, 2014)

“I wanted to prove that Muslim fashion, which based on Syari’ah, could also be fashionable and stylish,” – Itang Yunasz (Yunasz, 2014)

Itang Yunasz showing at Jakarta Fashion Week 2014 (Yunasz, 2014)

Itang Yunasz’s latest collection featured textiles of various weaving techniques such as Balinese and Sumba Ikat weaves from central and eastern Indonesia. He brought together traditional Indonesian techniques of embroidery and weaving with the modern process of digital printing, creating an range influenced by both Indonesian culture and contemporary fashion design.

To appeal to an international market, Indonesian fashion designers must face the challenge of combining Indonesian traditional fashion and cultural textiles with contemporary design. It is important for local designers to feature traditional textiles such as woven and dyed batik as well as embroidery to be able to keep originality and identity of Indonesian fashion in contemporary design. (Abdullah 2014, para. 8)

The fashion design industry in Indonesia has brought great economic and cultural development. With the success of local designers who are committed to maintaining local heritage while showcasing contemporary designs, Indonesia it is well on the way to becoming the next Islamic fashion capital.


Abdullah, Najwa 2014, A Bright Future for Indonesia’s Fashion Scene, Aquila Style, Singapore, viewed 23 April 2015, <>

Ismail, S. 2004, ‘Being Muslim: Islam, Islamism and Identity Politics’, Government and Opposition, 4 edn, vol. 39, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, pp. 614-31.

Jakarta Fashion Week 2014, A Long Journey of Itang Yunasz, Indonesia, viewed 24 April 2015, <>

Jones, C. 2007, ‘Fashion and Faith in Urban Indonesia’, in Tarlo, E.: Moors, A. (ed.), Fashion Theory, 2/3 edn, vol. 11, Berg Publishers, England, pp. 211-232.

Yunasz, I. 2014, Itang Yunasz’s Great Dedication, Jakarta Fashion Week, viewed 24 April 2015, <>

Yunasz, I. 2014, Jakarta Fashion Week, Tom and Lorenzo, viewed 24 April 2015, <>