Friendships Might Explain Why Muslim Countries Have Low Tolerance

[Image credit: zanskar / iStock.]

This post is based on my publication in the Politics and Religion journal. A version of this is also published on the Religion in Public blog.

Among some of the most consistent findings in the study of Islam and politics is that people in Muslim countries generally have lower tolerance than those in non-Muslim countries.

For example, a religious freedom report by the Pew Research Center shows that Muslim countries on average have higher social hostilities than non-Muslim countries. In other words, social groups in Muslim countries are more restrictive of (minority) religious groups than are groups in non-Muslim countries.

Figure 1. Social Hostilities Index from 2007 to 2016

Another example would be from the World Values Survey that shows high percentages of respondents in Muslim countries who object to having a neighbor from a different religion or say that they do not trust people from a different religion.

Figure 2. Levels of Tolerance from the World Values Survey

What, then, explains this phenomenon?

Continue reading Friendships Might Explain Why Muslim Countries Have Low Tolerance

How China’s Foreign Policy Shapes Prejudice against Chinese Indonesians

(AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

This piece is also published at New Mandala. The version here describes in greater details the methodology used.

How do Indonesians’ views on the People’s Republic of China at large shape their attitudes towards Chinese Indonesians? Do China’s domestic and foreign policy actions have consequences on prejudice towards Chinese Indonesians? Our study finds that they do indirectly, by first affecting the benefits and drawbacks that Indonesians perceive in fostering close Sino-Indonesian relations.

Continue reading How China’s Foreign Policy Shapes Prejudice against Chinese Indonesians

Measuring Religious Intolerance across Indonesian Provinces

This article was previously published by New Mandala.

How do Indonesian provinces vary in the levels of religious tolerance among their Muslim populations? Which province is the most tolerant and which one is the least? And how do we measure religious tolerance across regions using the tools of survey research? Having an answer to these questions is important, as it can help us understand how tolerance at the local level is influenced by local political dynamics, or how levels of tolerance might fluctuate over time.

But despite ample survey research on religious tolerance in Indonesia, these seemingly simple questions have not been satisfactorily answered. Most existing studies have overlooked the importance of subnational variation altogether, and those that look at the topic employ statistical methods that do not really allow proper comparisons, or measurements of the tolerance/intolerance construct.

Continue reading Measuring Religious Intolerance across Indonesian Provinces

The Breakdown of Norms

We have been complaining, and hearing complains, about the breakdown of norms. Certain groups claim that they are concerned with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual (LGBT) movements, with the apparent vulgarity in our television, or with the decaying sense of nationalism. The government generally responds to these concerns positively. The Minister of Research and Higher Education commented that LGBT movements are not welcome in college campuses. The Indonesian Broadcasting Commission zealously censored virtually anything, including a person milking a cow and beauty contest participants wearing traditional dress.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But here is the problem whenever we talk about norms. We think that norms concern only the society whereas they actually also concern the government and the way it governs. To see why, we need to understand a state not only as a collection of actual people, legal rules, and institutions, but also a set of tradition, precedence, and unwritten conventions. Tradition, precedence, and conventions constitute the norms that govern the state. These norms, just as societal norms do, define what actions are appropriate or inappropriate and constrain the behavior of state actors such as president and legislators.

Continue reading The Breakdown of Norms

Maundy Thursday and the Love that Hurts

Maundy Thursday is always the most touching of the Three Holy Days for me. Why? Because it presents Jesus in its most human form.

On Good Friday Jesus was tortured and crucified. There’s virtually nothing He could do about that. The Romans already captured him. Whatever He said, they would probably kill Him anyway. And on Easter He rose from the death. That’s good news. No more suffering.

But on Maundy Thursday were the real temptations. He knew the time was near and He had to leave the people He loved. Can you imagine the feeling? You love a person, so much, and you realize that that night is your last night with them? It must be hurtful.

Continue reading Maundy Thursday and the Love that Hurts