Indonesia: Religious supremacy and our silence

IT was inspiring to see thousands of people staging vigils and peaceful rallies in Charlottesville in the United States to pay tribute to those killed during the violence instigated by white supremacists on Aug 12.

They denounced the act of white supremacy, together affirming that bigotry and racism are against American values.

By contrast, in a country dubbed the world’s third-largest democracy, religious supremacism, bigotry and persecution are left almost unchallenged.

The spirit of collectively condemning religious supremacism does not exist in Indonesia, a nation claiming to be harmonious amid ethnic and cultural diversity.

In fact, most Indonesians stay silent, if not fearful, of ultra-conservative groups aiming to enforce their beliefs on others.

Putra Mario Alfian, a 15-year-old boy from Tangerang, Banten, was abused by a number of people in May after posting a Facebook status and image deemed offensive to Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab. After being forced to make a written apology to the leader, he and his family were eventually forced out of their house by the landlord.

The list of religious superiority actions continues, with houses of worship being vandalised and burned, as in Tanjung Balai, north Sumatra, where a mob burned down pagodas and monasteries last year.

In October 2015, two churches in Acheh, deemed illegal by locals, were set alight. There is also continuous persecution of Syiahs and followers of the Ahmadiyah minority.

Amid all this, most Indonesians have been silent.




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