"Major Eid Prayers in the city Dhaka" by Ariyan7 / CC BY-SA 4.0

‘Like a robot’: Indonesia’s nonbelievers struggle to blend in during Ramadan

May 20, 2020

By Ramadani Saputra

The presence of agnostics and atheists is not often felt in conservative Indonesia, where society largely defines itself along religious lines.

Widespread belief in traditional family values stokes fear in nonbelievers that they will be rejected by close relatives for their perspectives and often prevents them from speaking their minds.

As Muslims across the Indonesian archipelago celebrate Ramadan, nonbelievers are having a hard time blending in, feeling the weight of familial and social expectations amid a lack of space and mobility under COVID-19 social restrictions.

Fate led Jefry – who asked to be referred to with a pseudonym to protect his privacy – to spend Ramadan with his family in Riau this year. Jefry describes himself as an agnostic and has been living away from his family for the past couple of years attending university in Jakarta.

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