PRAYING IS FINE – ACTION BETTER
|The man on the far left represents Kebatinan. Then Confucianism, Buddhism, Hinuism, Protestants, Catholics and Islam.|
Five guards and an inmate died in a Jakarta prison riot last week, allegedly launched by Islamic State. More than 150 terrorists are held at the overcrowded jail where turmoil erupted six months ago.
Then early on Sunday church bombings in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second largest city, killed nine at the start of the Muslim fasting month.
In March police said they’d smashed an Internet jihad group known as the Muslim Cyber Army. It was accused of spreading fake news to stir the gullible and destabilize upcoming elections.
Where do the radicals recruit? At universities, according to Indonesia's Intelligence Chief Budi Gunawan.
He claimed almost 40 per cent of students have been exposed to zealots ‘trying to mobilise new terrorists.’
There are close to 3,000 tertiary education institutions in the Republic. Most are private and run by religions. Some are resisting the fundamentalists.
It was a most worthy event. Whether it can add value is another matter.
Days before the Jakarta riot and Surabaya bombings around 600 citizens of Malang gathered on a sweaty Saturday to supporthoping the initiative will spread from the East Java city throughout Indonesia.
The timing was important. Campaigning for regional elections is well underway; fears that some candidates will invoke hate against non-Muslims have already come to pass so the occasion was intended to head off further agents provocateurs.
Sponsors of the Malang bash organised by a local inter-faith committee included churches, the Jawa Pos newspaper and the Islamic University of Malang (Unisma) where the gathering was held.
The need for harmonis was hammered with force by rector Masykuri Bakri delivering the most stimulating speech of the two-hour show, evoking shared national values and a vision of togetherness that brought frequent outbursts of applause.
Curiously few of the happy clappers were from his private university associated with the mass Islamic movement Nahdlatul Ulama (NU). On this campus, with more than 7,000 students, women must wear jilbab (headscarves).
However most in the auditorium covering their hair were white-clad Catholic nuns; they overwhelmingly outnumbered the Muslims. When one religion is the majority by nine to one, reconciliation usually gets initiated by the anxious minority, quietly fearful that racist violence will erupt again as it has so many times.
The last big bloody outrage was two decades ago when Soeharto’s Orde Baru (New Order) 32-year dictatorship crashed. The fury was worst in Jakarta where ethnic Chinese were raped and killed, and their businesses burned. (For more on the 1998 riots see: http://indonesiaatmelbourne.unimelb.edu.au/could-violence-against-the-ethnic-chinese-in-indonesia-happen-again/)
Well-prepared families bolted to Australia – mainly Perth - where they’d secured permanent residence, sent their kids to local schools and bought homes.
Since then the huge December 2016 rallies against former Jakarta Governor Estimates of more than half a million fist-thrusting protestors have reminded all that tolerance in Indonesia is fragile and easily shattered by demagogues.led to the ethnic-Chinese Christian’s two-year jailing for blasphemy.
To assure the nervous that this won’t happen during the regional election campaigns now underway, and next year’s national vote for the President, was an army lieutenant colonel, and the head of the local police.
Splendid with swagger sticks and shirts sagging with medals and ribbons, the duo attempted to cool concerns with tedious addresses about their impartiality. This century the late president Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur) separated the army and the police forces, which are slowly becoming more professional.
They need to be. A recent paper by Melbourne University Professor Tim Lindsey claims ‘
The Jakarta prison riot was not well covered in Australia - more details here: http://www.atimes.com/article/prison-riot-shows-isis-lethal-reach-in-indonesia/
The Tim Lindsey feature was published on 10 May here: https://johnmenadue.com/tim-lindsey-post-reformasi-indonesia-the-age-of-uncertainty/
First published in Pearls and Imitations, 17 May 2018