zaterdag 30 april 2016

Gülen people unied for harmony through art in The Hague. Young Lady Wulan singing Adele

In 2013 the Gülen sympathizers organized a first big national event under the name of SANAT, Stichting Aanmoediging Nederlands Art Talent, Foundation for Promoting Dutch Art Talent. It is more or less concentrated around local networks of Gülen people, probably close to the Cosmicus Schools. It can be seen as a preparation for the annual 'Olympic Musical Performance' which brings together Gülen friends for a musical festival, promoting peace, religious understanding and harmony in Istanbul. Some of it is shown in the movie Selam (2013, see the book Gülen-Inspired Hizmet in Europe, page 42).
This year there will be two sessions in the Netherlands: the smaller one for about 400 people was in the new audience hall of the Peace Palace in the Hague 21 April. Another event will be in the great theatre Doelen of Rotterda, mid May.

The main building was paid by American philanthropist Carnegie and opened in 1913. A few years ago a smaller extension in modern style was added. The event opened with music by a youth orchestra from Utrecht. Some 20 small singers and dancers followed, most with modern songs, love songs, romantic ideas. Very special was a Syrian boy who had left Aleppo some 18 months ago and thanked the Dutch society for receiving his family. He spoke fairly fluent asnd beautiful Dutch.
Quite many people from the Gülen family were known to me, like politician Alaatin Erdal, Dialogue centre leader Alper Alasag, leader of the Dutch edition of Zaman, Mehmet Cerit. HOGIAF Business leader Adem Kuncu had come from Brussels.
A few members of the national parliament give a talk (two from the socialist party, one from the Christian Democrats). Vecih Er, president of the SANAT organisation spoke a word of welcome. He praised the sponsors and emphasized that this was meant as an intercultural Dutch event, promoting harmony. This is true, although I saw it also as the yearly warm meeting of the Gülen family. Some outsiders also were seated in prominent places. One of these was Muhammad Sini, a big name in Dutch-Moroccan organizations. He was twelve years the director of a great vocational school in Utrecht. Now he is working with the ministry of Justice for the national police. He was some 15 years ago also involved in the planning of the academic training of imams. At that moment I was defending an initiative of cooperation between Utrecht University and the Islamic University of Rotterdam. It had no chance due to political decisions, to give the money for this academic training and education to Leiden University and to the Free University of Amsterdam. In fact, both initiatives are now closed and the Islamic University of Rotterdam is still flourishing with quite many students. Also in Utrecht academic study of Islam continues, but the cooperation that was not wanted by Sini (and the minister of education) never developed further.
Above we see Vecih Er speaking. Sitting is stil the major speaker of the evening, second from left, former Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Ben Bot, also now the chair of the foundation of the Peace Palace. He sketched that negotiations are always better than fighting and the peace palace is made for negotiations, for problems that must be solved through talking between parties.
There was a song on a text by Yunus Emre. Four boys and three girls gave a very lively dance performance. There was also one Indonesian singer, Wulan, a small girl of 12 years, still finishing now her primary school. She sang a lyric by Adele about love:Rolling in the deep ... There's a fire starting in my heart ... you had my heart inside of your hands.. Notwithstanding her youth she was one of the best singers and probably therefore played neary last (only a Turkish comic, singing in Dutch, coming after her).

 In a fast rhythm one group after another gave a performance. The whole session was introduced and accompanied by a very well speaker and there was indeed a great variety of Dutch muticultural society shown on the podium. In the hall itself only some 10-15% were not Turkish. The name of Fethullah Gülen was never mentioned and only insiders would know that this is also (besides the school, the dialogue centre, the business community, the publications) part of this dynamic movement.
I heard that the major sponsor of this evening, a Supermarket and restaurant owner in Rotterdam, now faces much difficulties because Erdogan supporters in the Netherlands no longer want to buy in his shops because he is known more or less as  'siding with Gülen'.  Also the Dutch edition of Zaman has since a few months less income through advertising because Turkish business people hesitate to be connected to him.
Thank you, Vecih Er fgor organising this already during four years!

zaterdag 23 april 2016

The magic flight of Heri Dono

Volker Kuester was a colleague in Utrecht, 20 years ago. Since then he has moved to Kampen and since some six myears to Mainz, where he teaches intercultural theology. He has always had much interest for religious art and is preparing a new book on Christian art of Indonesia. The terminology of' 'Christian' is sometimes rather confused, because the artist often like to take traditional motives and just call it 'inculturated in Christianity'. We correspond about some aspects of art. Last questions were twofold: some about names for churches, which are quite secular in Indonesia: Gereja Manahan or Manahan Church is just called after a district of Solo which is best known for its football-stadium.
He sent me also a painting by Heri Dono.
This is a magic/mysterious painting. I found a discussion of it on a blog in Indonesian by Yustina Probowati dated May 30, 2013. I give a free translation and some comments.
The title Kakang Kawah Adik Ari-ari  means: the older brother (kakang, not kagang as Volker wrote!) is the water breaking at the end of pregnancy and preceding delivery of a child (amniotic fluid; literally kawah means crater, here the volcanic eruption is identified as the delivery); the younger brother/sister (adik) is the placenta or afterbirth (ari-ari). It seems to be a Javanese proverb, indicating two mighty protecting spirits: the amniotic water and the afterbirth. I think that the man fleeing here is the afterbirth, flying over the amniotic water, accompanied by many similar protecting spirits. They are called the Army of the Lord, protecting and also giving active help to the embryo while still in the process of growing before birth. The two powers are very important in this period of development and will remain it afterwards. All Javanese Ancestors believed that their 'spirits' always followed human beings after birth and they remain loyal friend for the persons. They become the 'army' which accompanies man in his/her life.
The meaning of this painting is that God is always with us in our life and nobody is a lonely being. This tells us something about the goodness of God. Do you agree? What do you think about this?  There were no further comments by Yustina Probowati. I found here a rather easy transition from the world with many spirits to monotheism. In fluid harmony without critical, sophisticated but also proud, even swollen orthodoxy. This is lovely and festive like the birth of a baby always should be.

donderdag 21 april 2016

The magic of the real thing: Diponegoro in Amsterdam

I wrote already about the presentation of the book by Harm Stevens on the history of Indonesia and the Netherlands as stored in the Rijksmuseum of Amsterdam. Now I have read the book by Harm Stevens and I want to highlight some of its major issues.
Like everything connected with the colonial period, it is sensitive, and even modern Dutch people feel obliged to write in a very politically correct way and to apologise for thing the ancestors did. I do not think this is necessary. We can together with Indonesians look at what cannot be changed, what has happened and what is our common past: a colonial period.
There are two items in this book that are important for the religious sentiments related to this past. First are the banners, shield and sword, related to colonial fighting in Aceh. One banner, conquered onthe Acehnese in Barus, 1840, was taken by a soldier who died in the attack. It is a blood-banner and so the real thing. It is not a piece of art, selected for its beauty but for its story and the memory of the soldier, Carel Heinrich Bischoff, born in Germany like so many Europeans in the colonial army.

The second subject is Diponegoro. In the Rijksmuseum it is depicted twice. The first is a drawing describing the 'surrender of the terrorist' as the Dutch called him. It was made by Jan Bik, a colonial official who had te make drawings, but also functioned as the one who had to guard Diponegoro in prison. his drawing was not an official document and so  was used to make a lithography in 1835 to glorify the Dutch victory. It was later again used to be printed on the banknote of one hundred rupiah.


A second image of Diponegoro in the Rijksmuseum is called 'The surrender of Diponegoro', although others considers this as the moment of  the 'treason of the Dutch negotiators' who took Diponegoro by violence while he thought that he had come just to negotiate. The hero on this painting of Nicolaas Pieneman (in Amsterdam) probably based on a sketch by Francois de Stuers, son-in-law  of the Dutch General De Kock.It is not Diponegoro who is in the centre, but De Kock in whose honour this was made, but it still has the title of 'The surrender of the terrorist'. (However, in my second view it has something like the classical Ecce Homo painting, where Pilate shows Jesus to the Jews and asks whether he shall free Jesus or not!)
There is a third image of the event: at a later stage painted by Raden Saleh. Here Diponegoro stands slightly higher and at least more prominent in the centre than general De Kock and he is the most important person in the painting. Also the persons in front of him are not bowing so deep as in the Dutch painting by Pieneman. Although Raden Saleh stayed for a long time in Europe he seems here to depict somehwhat more the Indonesian feeling than those of the European colonisers.
If the museums are the new churches, their content is open for all kind of new interpretatyions, new emotions and feelings as well.


donderdag 31 maart 2016

In Memoriam: Andreas Sol and Fransiskus Amanue

On 26 March two outspoken and impressive priests of Indonesia have died.
The oldest was Andreas Sol, born 19 October 1915 in Sloten (now included in Amsterdam). I wrote about him earlier this year, related to the celebration of his 100th birthday. He lived most of his life in East Indonesia, from the Kei islands to the major island of Ambon, where Catholics always were a small community, between Protestants and Muslims. It were mostly Catholics from Tanimbar and Kei, besides a group of Chinese converts. Sol built a strong infrastructure: schools, houses for the Dutch Sisters (PBHK, Daughters of the Mother of the Sacred Heart) and his Indonesian order. Schools, orphanages: care for the poor and weak among his flock. The rich of his flock could support the poor, it was not only foreign funds he sought (although he had access to these sources as well and kept good relations). But he was also the founder of the Rumphius library where the heritage of the history of Ambon is cherished in its many varieties.
That same day also Fransiskus Amanue died, priest and human rights activist. He was born in Adonara, 17 November 1944. He became known for his allegations of corruption of the Bupati of Larantuka. as far as I remember he was in an official position as Delegate for Justice and Peace in the diocese, but the Bupati had also given a car to the bishop (who therefore was not critical towards the Bupati). Anyhow, Amanue was called to the court for insulting the Bupati and was sentenced to two months of emprisionment. But the angry population burnt down the building of the court and the house of the public prosecutor. This was all inNovember 2003. I wrote in Catholics in Independent Indonesia, 1945-2010 (p. 284) "The big dreams of total social and economic reformation of the 1960s generated only small improvements in society. Are the representatives for justice and peace the prophetic replacements for the development workers?"

Japanese identity and Dutch-Japanese relations

On Tuesday 29 March the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam celebrated the presentation of a book The narrow bridge: 250 years Dutch-Japanese Relation. It was about the isolation period of Japan, roughly 1630-1860 when only the Dutch factory on the tiny island of Desima had contact with japanese people through trade and diplomatic contacts.
There were nice speeches by the two authors, Jan de Hond and Menno Fitski. They had anecdotal talks, beginning with photographs or paintings, material culture and concluded to the style of relations between the two countries. Pottery, ceramics made in Japan for the Dutch market and Japanese furniture adjusted to the Dutch market. A dancer made a performance with the title MERGE, where his shadow merged with existing figures.
 The left figure is the dancer, right a horse, but in fact it was earlier the heart of a human being. Changes in merging again and again.
An exceptional talk was given by Prof. Kazuhiko Togo, first an ambassador, later a scholar of international Japanese cultural links. He divided the history of japan into Chinese dominated culture (until 1600), from 1850 on as dominated by American influence, after 1930 by Nationalism. 1600-1850 was the shugunate: typical Japanese? Should it be a model also for the newer period? This concentration on a somewhat isolated and secluded Japanese identity?
I will need to read again Huntington in an international mood but also in a critical way.

Not much new Japanese things in the museum, only a special exhibition: the 13 kimono painted by Breitner in the 1870s. Perhaps he understood what a kimono is: more an impressive painting than just a cloth!

dinsdag 29 maart 2016

Tjilik Riwut (1918-1987) and the creation of Agama Hindu-Kaharingan in Central Kalimantan

On the same day of the first day of the Hizmet Conference in Brussels, police searched for complices of the last November attacks of paris. But one week later, Tuesday 22 March, terrorist attacks took place on Zeventem Airport and in the metro, on the very place of the Wetstraat where also had passed on the 15th.

Another topic: in Leiden I met last week Risa Aizawa from Rikkyo University in Tokyo. She wrote a PhD on Traja conversion to Christianity and holds now a Postdoc fellowship for two years in Leiden for research onthe rise of Kaharingan religion and its ambivalent relation to Protestant missions. Maybe there is a Catholic factor as well. Rikkyo University is the Anglican counterpart of the Sophia University in Tokyo, which is a Catholic and Jesuit institution.
I will still have to do my own homework for the MSF missionaries of Banjarmasin and their contact with Kaharingan. I have read some more material than I did for the chapter in A History of Christianity in Indonesiai (pp 497-9). I mention here Tjilik Riwut as a Protestant assistent to Heinrich Schärer, the Basler Mission scholar and missionary, but also as a short-term convert to Catholicsm in the 1940s (because of a marriage in Java). Anyway, he further developed as a cultural, political and religious nationalist. I have to ask P.M. Laskon further about him!
An interesting study on Kaharingan is by Martin Georg Baier, who read the books published in Central Kalimantan for primary and secondary schools, classes of Kaharingan religious instruction. Baier notices developments in Kaharingan, adaptations to modern Indonesian monotheism (as is also clear in Balinese Hindu booklets). In his discussion of the sources Baier is quite critical and suspicious about Riwut. What Riwut writes is often not documented. He takes long quotes from Adatrechtbundel when it is only written about one tribue and proclaims this as something valid for all Kaharingan (or all Dayaks). The High God of the Dayak has a co0nsort, a lady who is labelled by him as an 'angel', always close to the Highest God.  He identifies Ranying Hatalla 'with the Muslim and Christian God, who has no wife, no children and degrades the members of his family to angels'. (Dari Agama politeisme ke Agama Ketuhanan yang maha esa (2008?, 32).
This is an interesting observation of what also happens with Hinduism and Buddhism in Indonesia. I will have to give more attention to this interesting phenomenon in Indonesian religiosity.

donderdag 17 maart 2016

A sad meeting of Gülen people in Brussels

A Gülen Chair is one of the many elements of a national branch of the Hizmet Movement (besides schools, dialogue centre, media, charity, journalists and writers association). The Leuven Chair began in 2011 or 2012 with Johan Leman as the first professor. 15-16 March 2016 an International Symposium was held in Brussels under the title of Countering violent extremism: Mujahada and Muslims' Responsibility.
About 60 national branches of the movement had sent representatives and people interested to attend the meeting. There were about some 30 participants from the Netherlands among the 300/400 people. Among the first I met were two from UIN Jakarta: Prof. Dr. Masykuri Abdillah (director of the Graduate School of Pasca Sarjana) and Dr. Ali Unsal, Director of the Gülen Chair at Syarif Hidayatullah (UIN) in Ciputat/Jakarta. He speaks fluent Indonesian!  This is quite different from what I heard about the Gülen school in Semarang, but I was really happy to see and hear this development of a Gülen corner in my first Alma Mater in Indonesia.
For the illustrations of this story I include some pictures of with special hat, turbans or other cover on their head.

People from the seven Muslim cultures can be seen through this special covering of the head.
The talks, debates in plenary sessions and workshops were all about the specific theme. But in the individual discussions there were many stories about the tragedy of the split between Erdogan and Gülen since mid-2013 (Gezi Park demonstrations). It was not only the closing of Zaman or even the stealing of this major symbol and instrument of the Gülen Movement. Wives of Gülen teachers abroad arriving in Turkey see their passports cut in pieces, because they are on the list of Gülen people. A man who had donated money for a student at a Gülen school: put in prison. The richest business people have lost their property, put in prison and their business taken over by the government. People who donated money to Kimse Yok Mu, the charity of Gülen now know that they will be on the blacklist.
There was a debate about examples in history when such a state attack on a religious organization had occurred. The Jesuits were banned in many European countries between 1760-1820, first in France, Spain, Austria and finally also by the pope and the Vatican. In the 1860s Catholic religious orders were banned from educational activities by the German government (Kulturkampf). It became clair to me that the situation of the attack against the Gülen or Hizmet related activities is much morw widespread and more intense than I thaught until now.
Like with so many Gülen events, there were many more Western academics given a talk than Gúlen people themselves. Paule Weller (above) from Derby University in the UK was one of the best in formulating the difficult subject of what terrorism and extremism, radicalism etc. is.  Below a picture of myself with a Kurdish participant.
In fact we were not even able to give good definitions of the long series of radicalism, violent extremism etc., let alone to formulate a good medicine for this social disease, but it was a good meeting.
On Dutch television Prof. Beatrice de Graaf gave a historical overview of 4 terrorist movements in the last 150 years: 10 the anarchist from Bakoenin, 1870s until 1914: First World War; 2) nationalist movements from Algeria, Ireland, to Indonesia, finally successful, between 1920-1960; 3) leftist movements between 1970-1990 (dying out with the end of Communism). Among these Rote Armee. 4) Islamic extremism since the 1990s.