The government, through the Religious Affairs Ministry, is currently actively encouraging religious moderation, which is one of the important national issues in the 2020-2024 National Mid-Term Development Plan.
AHMAD NAJIB BURHANI
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This nation has all the potential to become great and triumphant, both through the wealth and diversity of its nature and the strength of its people. However, this nation also has the potential to follow in the footsteps of Syria and Afghanistan, which continue to be in clashes and be ravaged, if bad incidents such as those in Sintang, West Kalimantan, on 3 Sept. 2021, are not stopped. A group carrying religious flags vandalized the place of worship of a religious minority group and set fire to a warehouse located next to it. Their accusation was that the group was deviant and disturbing the community.
Since the government announced the pandemic on 5 March 2020, there has been a series of discriminatory acts against those with different faiths.
As this nation strives to mitigate the deadly Covid-19 pandemic, it turns out that at the same time we must also fight against a virus that is no less dangerous, namely the virus of hatred, intolerance, sectarianism, exclusivism and radicalism that exists in society. Since the government announced the pandemic on 5 March 2020, there has been a series of discriminatory acts against those with different faiths.
These have included, among others, pressure on the Bogor regent to prohibit members of the Ahmadiyah religious group from being present in the area (16 March 2020); the sealing of the Al-Aqso Mosque in Kampung Badakpaeh, Tasikmalaya (6 April 2020); the sealing of a tomb for elders of the indigenous Sunda Wiwitan faith group at Curug Goong, Kuningan (20 July 2020); the disbanding of a prayer event at Mertodranan, Solo (8 August 2020); the closure of a mosque in Ciawi, Garut (6 May 2021); and finally the recent destruction and burning in Sintang. This has not included the spread of stigma against ethnic Chinese because of ill-founded accusations that they carried Covid-19.
The government, through the Religious Affairs Ministry, is currently actively encouraging religious moderation, which is one of the important national issues in the 2020-2024 National Mid-Term Development Plan. On various campuses, “moderation houses” have been established, and campaigns are continuously being promoted in the community. However, the challenges of this effort apparently do not only come from outside, but also from within the ministry itself and various institutions or organizations that are under the coordination of the Religious Affairs Ministry.
Besides the Religious Affairs Ministry, efforts to build a culture that is friendly to differences and maintains diversity are also being promoted by the Education, Culture, Research and Technology Ministry. This ministry even passed Law No. 5/2017 on the advancement of culture, whose first and second principles are tolerance and diversity (Article 3). Unfortunately, since its enactment four years ago, this law has developed no legs for its implementation.
Religious moderation does not apply to religious groups that are labeled heretical by certain religious authorities either, such as the Ahmadiyah.
Another problem related to religious moderation and tolerance is the concept itself and its application, which frequently have certain limitations. For example, this tolerance does not apply to those outside of religions that are “recognized” by the state. Therefore, when Religious Affairs Minister Yaqut Cholil Qoumas wished the Baha\'i a happy Naw-Ruz Day, a controversy emerged in the community. Religious moderation does not apply to religious groups that are labeled heretical by certain religious authorities either, such as the Ahmadiyah.
Therefore, those in the two above-mentioned categories do not receive the same protection as the “recognized” religious groups. Even in the belief of some people, they need to be "guided" or, to borrow the term in Law No. 1/PNPS/1965 which is addressed to Penghayat (native-faith followers), channeled "toward a healthy view".
The meaning of being healthy here is of course in accordance with the beliefs of the dominant religious group. This frequently becomes the justification for the process of considering those with different beliefs infidels. An infidel in this context does not just show differences in beliefs; there is a tendency to demean (theologically) groups who have the different beliefs. They are considered uncivilized people or heathens (pagans or religious groups that are considered not yet fully formed). This view makes some people feel blameless when they destroy or burn places of worship belonging to certain religious minority groups.
Instead of believing it to be a heinous act, some perpetrators even regard their actions as virtuous, as religious calls or efforts to guard fatwas. I frequently use the term messianic tendency or colonial tendency to describe this trend. In short, these people believe that their actions in attacking or destroying places of worship of religious groups that they call infidels or heretics are precisely to save them from God\'s torment in hell.
Sectarian fantasies and the shadow of fear against those who are different have become paradoxes of globalization.
A further implication of this view in the context of building the state is the birth of neo-dhimmitude (an adaptation of the concept of dhimmiyah in the state with a new framework) or stratified citizenship (the concept of classes of citizenship). This can already be felt in several cases in the community, such as in the opportunity to become a leader or get a job.
Indeed, symptoms like these do not only occur in Indonesia. Some of the inhabitants of Earth are infected with the virus of hatred. The idea of the sectarian fantasy was formulated by Slavoj Zizek with the sentence, "If only they [those who are different] were not here, life would be perfect, and the community would return to harmony," (Myers 2003: 108). This way of thinking led to the shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand (2019); the expulsion of the Rohingya from Myanmar; the intensification of white supremacists in the United States; and of course some cases of hatred against those who are different in Indonesia.
Finally, the name of the village where the destruction of the place of worship occurred is Balai Harapan (house of hope). Therefore, the 3 Sept. incident seems ironic and contradicts the name of the village. Hopefully this incident and other instances of discrimination in Indonesia are just anomalies, not Indonesian culture or human character. In general, we believe that this nation is a tolerant nation and can become a house of hope for the blossoming of lives that are harmonious, tolerant and marked by mutual cooperation among the nation\'s children.
As in the book Harmoni dalam Keragaman: Jejak Budaya Toleransi di Manado, Bali, dan Bekasi (Harmony in Diversity: Traces of a Culture of Tolerance in Manado, Bali and Bekasi, 2021) edited by MN Prabowo Setyabudi, there are many examples of harmony from this nation scattered in various places in Indonesia, such as Kampung Sawah (Bekasi), Wonosobo and others. These are all cultural assets to build a tolerant nation based on diversity.
Ahmad Najib Burhani, Research professor at the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN).