Almost everyone in the world is intolerant to a certain extent. Indonesians are, unfortunately, no exception. As we may all know, there are people from hundreds of different ethnicities in Indonesia, as well as a variety of religions (only six are officially recognized by the Indonesian government).
Being around people of different backgrounds is not without problems. An issue that has emerged due to the diversity of religions and ethnicities in Indonesia is intolerance. Intolerance, in terms of religion, is unfortunately quite common amongst Indonesians. Generally, intolerance can be racial and ethnic or religious and ideological or political and social.
In the past few years, both national and international media have reported attacks on people of the minority religions in the country. There are some radical Muslim groups, for instance the Front Pembela Islam (Islamic Defenders Front), that use violence to accomplish their goals, including the Muslim community itself. It is a bit of a concern that the government do not stand firm against these groups, but fortunately most of the Muslims in the country are supportive of a harmonious society with diverse religious belief systems.
Unfortunately, intolerance has been worsening in the country. In the past few years, religious minorities, including Christians and Shia Muslims, have been increasingly discriminated and attacked by Sunni Islamist militant groups (such as the Islamic Defenders Front). There have even been cases where Christian churches and even mosques where Muslim minorities pray have been closed as the hard-liners were pressuring them to be.
A quite recent example, is the church bombing on 13 May 2018, where three bombs exploded at three churches – Saint Mary Immaculate Catholic Church (STMB); Surabaya Pantecostal Church (GPPS); Diponegoro Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) – at the 2nd largest city in Indonesia, Surabaya. The bombing occurred shortly before Sunday services began. As of 4:15 p.m. 13 May 2018, the number of fatalities stand at 13 people, while 41 were injured.
“The Islamic State group in Syria was responsible for suicide attacks against three churches in Indonesia,” it said via its propaganda agency Amaq. “Three martyrdom attacks killed 11 and wounded at least 41 among church guards and Christians,” it said via the Telegram messaging app as quoted by AFP.
The two nation’s largest Islamic organizations in Indonesia, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah have condemned that incident. NU chairman, Said Aqil Siradj, said in a statement on Sunday, May 13 2018, “NU condemns all acts of terrorism, whatever the motive and background. Islam condemns any form of violence. There is not a single religion in the world that justifies violence as a way of life.”
Moreover, Muhammadiyah has a similar opinion. “Muhammadiyah is strongly opposed to the suicide bombings that took place in Surabaya this morning. As a organization that fights for the good of Muslim society, the nation and humanity, we condemned that incident,” said the head of the organization’s East Java chapter, M. Saad Ibrahim.
No religion would support such a despicable act, especially in a place of worship. Every person has the right to believe in what they believe in, especially when it comes to religion. Everyone should also respect that, whether they agree with it or not. It is what makes a better and harmonious society. Ultimately, the issue of intolerance and discrimination is not only an Indonesian issue, but much more of a global issue. Citizens in the much more economically developed countries tend to be generally more tolerant to diversity. So, surely, it wouldn’t cause so much trouble for us – since we, after all, are decent Indonesian citizens – to emulate them in this regard.
Oleh : Nardiéna Althafia Pratama
Departemen Kajian dan Aksi Strategis
BEM Fasilkom UI 2018