Jock Cheetham

MA (Research) candidate
Supervisor: Professor Adrian Vickers
Associate Supervisor: Dr Justin Hastings

A morality perspective on religious freedom in Indonesia during the SBY presidency (2004-2014)
In Indonesia, a country with constitutional guarantees of religious freedom, acts of intolerance have risen during the presidency of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (2004-2014). I examine the actors including Islamic activists, the President, state institutions and the public. I lay out the extent of the problem, and how it differs from previous periods. Some of the treatment of minorities is justified within a moral framework. So I explain and explore moral foundations theory, which places morality in its evolutionary context. I use the theory to review the literature to help explain why religious freedom has become an issue of concern. In the light of that theory, I then look at Islam and Islamism in Indonesia, and their relationship with religious minorities and attitudes to religious freedom. What role does morality play in the dynamics of religious freedom for Islamic activists, local Muslims and religious minorities? My qualitative field research will be interview-based exploration of these ideas with local populations and activists.

About the student

Jock Cheetham has been a journalist for 22 years. He works as the training editor at The Sydney Morning Herald, where he writes feature articles from time to time, including on the topic of this masters thesis ( He has a BA in politics and history from UNSW and a masters in journalism from UTS. He has a long-term interest in Indonesia, which he studied in 1994 at postgraduate level (UNSW). On a journalism fellowship in 2010 he became aware of issues around religious freedom and has since pursued them academically, combining it with his interest in tribalism and morality. In conjunction with Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA, Jock runs a media development program in East Timor.