JAKARTA: Human Rights Watch Thursday called on Indonesia's president to adopt a "zero tolerance" approach to attacks on religious minorities, saying such violence in the country was "on the rise".
In a 107-page report, the New York-based rights watchdog slammed President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for responding "weakly to growing intolerance and acts of violence" against minorities in the world's biggest Muslim-majority nation.
"Religious intolerance and related violence is rising in Indonesia and one of the reasons why it's rising is the government is failing to act decisively to stop it," HRW Asia Deputy Director Phelim Kine said at the report launch.
"It has to take a zero tolerance approach, to prosecute the perpetrator, assist the victim and make clear the government won't accept this type of abuse," he said.
Kine said the government was merely "shrugging their shoulders" at attacks and that the failure to act was "emboldening and encouraging Islamist militants".
The report outlined attacks across the religious spectrum -- on Christians, Buddhists and Muslims from the Ahmadiyah and Shiite minority sects.
HRW recommended the revocation of discriminatory regulations, including the country's blasphemy law, ministerial decrees prohibiting certain houses of worship and a decree that prevents followers of Ahmadiyah from proselytising.
The report cited several cases where Islamists had carried out attacks with near impunity, calling on the government to ensure perpetrators are prosecuted.
It also called on the international community to stop praising the country for its supposed tolerance, saying such statements have "generated a sense among Indonesia's leaders that no significant changes in law, policy, or practice are needed".
Ninety percent of Indonesia's 240 million people identify themselves as Muslims, and the country is hailed as a bastion of moderate Islam.
The Setara Institute of Peace and Democracy recorded 543 cases of religious intolerance in 2011, up from 491 cases in 2009. More than 300 incidents were recorded in the first half of 2012.
Several churches on Sulawesi island were attacked with petrol bombs this month, while a congregation forced to pray on the street outside its church was attacked with rotten eggs on Christmas Day on Jakarta's outskirts.