Giving hope to persecuted Christians since 1995
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By Al Makin

9/1/10 Indonesia (Jakarta Post) – Due to Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s (SBY) sluggish and infirm response to religious violence and intolerance, a yellow card should be issued. A whistle should be blown. Halt the train for a moment, time for reflection.

A referee should warn Ruhut Sitompul — a Democrat politician and a member of the House of Representatives who fished in the murky water to test the public — not to even think of a third term.

“Behold SBY!” (Please forgive the referee who substitutes Ruhut’s name for SBY, or on the other way around). “Your record is yellow, close to red.” Be serious.

A yellow card means warning, whereas a red one means stop – enough is enough. Please, never turn the yellow into a red card. A green card — meaning peace, environmentally friendly, a card issued by the US government to allow non-US citizens to work there, and that the show must go on – is preferable.

Ruhut beat the drum, echoing the possibility of SBY’s third term, ironically amid the fire directed at SBY’s lame duck. The nickname “Mr. Doubter” lingers.

Minority groups, for example, members of Ahmadiyah and Christians, become the target of attack by the hardliners, for example the Islamic Community Forum (FUI) andthe Islam Defenders Front (FPI), whose leaders and members never give up exhibiting their shallow rhetoric in the public.

When a chance came, they seized it. There is always a temptation in their minds, whenever streets and roads are empty,  to hold mass rally. They feel invited whenever an issue can be twisted.

Issues surrounding Ahmadiyah and Indonesian Christians, which the FPI still want to sell, are old. Indeed, nobody, except the FPI and the like, want to buy it.

True, until early 20th century, Muslims and Christians were suspicious of each other, due to complicated elements of the native Indonesians, the Dutch government, and inter-religious relations.

Th. Sumartana, a pioneer of inter-religious dialogue, has touched upon this issue.

However, Christianization in Indonesia, which concerned both most Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah leaders from the 1970s to 1980s, is a sheer myth, which the New Order regime used very well in the effort of managing the conflict between Muslims and Christians for the benefits of the government (it sounds like divide et impera, divide and rule). An Indonesian scholar, Mujiburrahman, wrote this.

Back to the point. Mosques and churches, built by minorities, are now in danger. Religious harmony and tolerance are in peril. Religious and ethnic diversity, which should be part of Indonesians’ identity, are threatened.

It is a paradox that the Americans are now discussing whether a mosque can be built at Ground Zero, the World Trade Center (WTC) site in Manhattan, New York city — the target of the 9/11 attack. The Americans are debating how to differentiate between true Islam and al-Qaeda, between moderate Muslims and radicals, and between religion and fundamentalism.

But here in Indonesia, people are witnessing that mosques and churches have been destroyed. People performing religious rites are ambushed. What a shame.


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