Indonesia’s Orang Rimba: Forced to renounce their faith
By Rebecca Henschke
The Sumatran rainforests of Indonesia are home to the Orang Rimba – the people of the jungle. Their faith and nomadic way of life are not recognised by the state and, as their forests are destroyed to make way for palm oil plantations, many are being forced to convert to Islam to survive.
In a wooden hut on stilts, a group of children dressed in white sit on the floor. They sing “I will protect Islam till I die” and shout “There is no god but Allah”, in unison.
Three months ago, the 58 families that make up the Celitai tribe of Orang Rimba converted to Islam.
They were picked up and bussed into Jambi, the nearest city, and given clothes and prayer mats.