Human Rights Watch

It's not just DC and the Vatican: Saudi Arabia and Indonesia make worrisome news

It's not just DC and the Vatican: Saudi Arabia and Indonesia make worrisome news

It's time for an update on the inseparably braided political and religious goings-on in two key Muslim nations; Indonesia, the most populous Muslim nation, and Saudi Arabia, Islam’s birthplace and site of the recently concluded hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca that is one of the world’s largest religious gatherings.

As you may expect, it’s not good news.

Moreover, it’s news that’s in danger of going under-appreciated because of the undeniably more alluring headlines -- for American news junkies, at least -- related to the Catholic Church’s sexual corruption cover up, and the Trump administration’s equally crumbling cover up of sexual, financial and all-around political corruption.

Let’s start with Indonesia, which once enjoyed, and capitalized on, a reputation for being one of the most politically moderate and religiously open-minded of Muslim nations.

These two pieces provide a refresher, should you require it. The first is a news report from Reuterswhile the second is a previous GetReligion analysis by editor Terry Mattingly ("That wave of attacks on churches in Indonesia: Is the 'moderate' Muslim news hook gone?"

Now, it seems, the situation in the Southeast Asian archipelago nation has gone from bad to worse, and perhaps to the absurd.

Here’s what The Washington Post reported last week.

A Buddhist woman’s conviction this week on blasphemy charges has alarmed many in Indonesia who were already worried about the erosion of religious pluralism in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.

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Human rights? Let's learn from Saudi Arabia. The UN does.

Human rights? Let's learn from Saudi Arabia. The UN does.

Headed to Manhattan? Be careful. It's that time of year again. The 70th annual Grand Debate of the United Nations General Assembly has descended upon Gotham -- and Bruce Wayne is no where to be found.

Once again, we're knee deep in speeches by world leaders who muddy their talks with agenda-driven half-truths and outright lies, and, on occasion, lofty goals that never seem to manifest. Not to mention the finger-pointing, buck-passing, and pleas from the world's have-not nations for help from the wealthy -- another reason for general disappointment.

Plus, it's the cause of massive midtown Manhattan traffic jams. So watch yourself. Better yet, join Wayne, where ever he is.

Monday's opening day featured dueling speeches by President Barack Obama and Russia's Vladimir Putin. Guess what. Each had a better idea for turning the world toward the peaceable kingdom.

But this is GetReligion, so let's skip the headline-grabbing political theater and focus on another UN farce -- Saudi Arabia's growing role within the UN's Human Rights Council.

Why is this important to journalists, and religion writers in particular?

Because the skewed judgements and pronouncements emanating from the Human Rights Council are too often reported -- particularly in barebones wire-service stories -- as carrying legitimate moral authority with little or no information that adds important counter-balancing context.

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