maandag 12 maart 2018

The impact of religious violence

I am still working for the CMR-project on 18th century Java. Mostly there were peaceful relations of separation between the Dutch and the Indonesians, 'Christians' and 'Muslims'. There were also periods of war when the strong language about the other was amply used. There were also incidents, individual explosions of violence, small facts that had nevertheless sometimes deep impact.
One of these is the case of Modin Samat (= Abdu'l  Samad) who with his group of some 17 faithful killed two Europeans in their house in Semarang on 30 October 1733. The next day they killed two more Dutch citizens on street. Only a few months later they were arrested by the police.
Modin Samat claimed that he was born in a sacred dynasty and destined to become the ruler of Java. He had dreams about his call; and also one of his followers had a similar dream. His group all had the idea that they could obtain high positions in the new kingdom of Java. Modin Samat deemed it necessary to kill from time to time some Europeans as a preparation for the final attack on the VOC fortification in Semarang. The first attack failed, but on 30-31 October it had more effect. He was preparing a third attack. The VOC had no doubt about what to do: Modin Samat and all his followers were put to death.
This story is found in the Dutch VOC Archives, VOC 2295 f72 and f 257. I found it in the doctoral dissertation by Lucas Nagtegaal, Riding a Dutch tiger. The north coast of Java and the VOC, 1680-1743, Utrecht University 1988 (text in Dutch). On the cover is a picture from a Javanese manuscript showing the killing of Trunajaya byAmangkurat II, while officers of the VOC are witness of this sad event. Trnajaya is sitting; behind him two weaping wives.
There is much about trade reports, but also much violence in this history. The incidents of violence also had deep impact and sometimes could change the course of history, but sometimes, like in the case of Modin Samat, it was finished with the four Dutch and nearly twenty Javanese lives. And increase of suspicion, distrust, cautiousness, fear, as we see nowadays.

dinsdag 6 maart 2018

Mantan = former: Rehabilitation or deradicalisation of some 120 ex-terorists in Indonesia

Last month, 25 February 2018, in Hotel Borobudur, the splendid place on the northern side of the Lapangan Banteng square in Jakarta, a special meeting took place: 120 ex-terrorists offered their apologies to several score of their victims. The terminology of mantan (meaning 'former') was used. It was the conclusion of a process of several days, where culprits and victims lived together in the luxurious hotel. They were involved in the Bali bombings (2002 and 2005), the two attackls on Hotel Marriott in Jakarta (2003 and 2009), the Australian Embassy (2004) and the great shopping centre Sarina (2016), a building from the Sukarno period.
In my youth, the 1960s,  there was much debate about de-radicalisation, or how to change the minds of radical and (sometimes) violent people. At that time it was the New Age movements like the Moonies (Unification Church), Hare Krishna,but also leftist groups like Baader-Meinhof, Rote Armee Fraktion. And often the mild terminology of 'brainwashing' was used to reduce their guilt or responsibility. It proved to be very difficult to change the mind of what were considered victims.
The major therapy at this event in Jakarta was the direct meeting or even confrontation of culprits with their victims. Not everybody was happy with the result. The Indonesian newspaper Kompas had on 28 February a very positive report, showing in a picture ex-terorist Ali Fauzi, bomber in the first Marriott attack of 2003. However, the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant had interviews with two Dutch men who had been in the Jakarta meeting. At the final meeting there was a short movie, showing culprits and victims loughing, keeping should by shoulder like in a carneval-like dance. One Max Boon (who lost two legs at the second Marriott attack of 2009) said: 'This is some kind of cheap and painful theatre. It is impossible to heal the deep wounds of the victims and the dangerous ideologies of the perpetrators in just two or three days.'  AIDA, the Alliance for a Peaceful Indonesia said that they had tried to reconciliate 27 victims with four cultprits in three days. We should have taken many months for this. But the origanizers were already happy that a quite large group of victims and culprits had been in the same place for several days. A token of reconciliation for the whole world.

maandag 26 februari 2018

The Balkafiyah of Jokowi after the attack on Church of Saint Lidwina in Bedog-Yogyakarta

On 11 February 2018 a 'lonely wolf', a young man, born in Banyuwangi, attacked the church of Saint Lidwina in Bedog, near Yogyakarta. He had a sword and cut the heads of statues of Jesus and Mary. He hit also several people. His best know victim was the 80 years old musician and Jesuit priest, Dr. Karl-Edmund Prier who directed a choir or celebrated Mass on the early Sunday morning. Prier had severe wounds on his back and head, but was not deadly wounded. Tiny parts of his skull fell on the grounds, but nothing of his brains was hurt. He published a letter with some comments about the aftermath: not only the Catholic community but also the Muslims of this neighbourhood helped to clean things, to paint the church again white. The first to come with a new statue for Mary and Jesus was a Muslim haji who had bought it at his own initiative, without a panitia or committee. On Monday 19 February the church was 're-consecrated' by Bishop Robertus Rubiyatmoko of Semarang.
From President Jokowi of Indonesia also a comment came in the style of a 'Negative Confession'. In fact, it was a statement Jokowi gave already before he became President in 2014. It is in Indonesian also on the internet:
In the tradition of Muslim theology the confession of God is often formulated in a negative way: how God not should be seen: not changing, without begin and end, hearing but not as a human being or as any creature. The Arab expression is bi la kayf (without its how) and often summarized as balkafiyah. It is a modest way of speaking about God. I give here a translation of this formulation of Jokowi's personal confession:
Everybody has the right to doubt my religion.
But I, for myself , do not doubt my belief and my spiritual leaders.
And I never doubt Islam as my religion.
I am not a member of a group which adheres Islam with the purpose to create an Islamic state.
I am not an associate of those who accept Islam, but also like to spread hatred, envy and fear.
I am not an associate of those Muslim groups who are convinced that they must consider family members and other fellow citizens as unbelievers.
I am not a member of that small Muslim sect who disguise in Arab dress with a turban and who rob property of other people and use a sword full of blood.
I am not an associate of the Islam which abuses the verses of the Qur'an to cheat the people.
I am not a member of those political parties that abuse Islam for corruption in order to live a luxurious life.
I am not a meber of the Islam which causes war against Muslim fellow people. 
I am not a member of the Islam  which oppresses other religions.
I am not an associate of Islam which is arrogant, with a sword in the hand and words in the mouth.
I am not a member of Islam in order to seek dirty tricks.
I am Jokowi, part of Islam as Rahmatan lil Alamin, God's Grace for the whole world.
The Islam which is lived from generation to generation and plays its role in the Indonesian Republic as a State which keeps to the Constitution of 1945 and the Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, a Unified Variety, as God's Grace.

Mosque-Church of Pec on the cover of CMR vol. 9

In the monumental series, Christian-Muslim relations, a Bibliographical History the 17th century is described in four volumes of about 1000 pages each. Volume 9 is the last one (published after 10 and 11). It is on Western and Southern Europa: Spain and Portugal, France, Italy, Germany and Central Europe (mostly Hungary and Austria).
The cover of the book shows a nice image: it is of a mosque in Pec (Hungary), built in 1543 as a mosque, under the Ottoman administration. It was turned into a church when the Habsburgs took the place in 1686 but remained also used as a mosque until 1868 when only Christian worship was allowed.
I visited the place in 1995, when just south of Pec the wars in former Yugoslavia disturbed this region. At that time the history of religious change already was shown inside the church: in the left side, just in front of the altar, there was an Arabic calligraphy where the opening verses of the Qur'an, al-Fatiha were shown, on the right side the Latin text of the Christian creed.
Now I saw also that the cross and the crescent are united on top of the dome of the building. nice choice!
The book as whole has many interesting entries. Jan Slomp  gives the most recent theories about the 'Gospel of Barnabas' which had possibly an Italian version before the better known Spanish. but still, it is seen as a work by a Morisco in polemic with Christianity. AndrĂ© du Ryer, an early translator of the Qur'an (1647)  has found his description, as well as Vincent de Stochove, adventurer, pilgrim to Jerusalem and one of the few people from Belgium in this series of studies. Levinus Warner is here put in the German section. He was born in Lippe, Germany and went to Leiden to study Arabic, Persian and some more eastern languages. He lived in Aleppo and Istanbul to buy manuscripts for Leiden university and died there too, while his collections is still the backbone of the Leiden collection of Arab Manuscripts. the book is a mix of people with admiration for the Muslim World, besides fervent polemicists. This book against proves the strength of the format for the whole project: attractive biographies, summaries of the content of books and finally good bibliographies.

zondag 25 februari 2018

Genocide: from J.P. Coen to the Turks and the Armenians

During the last months there is quite a hot debate in the Netherlands about Jan Pieterszoon Coen, founder of Batavia/Jakarta in 1619. A primary school in Amsterdam, named after this Dutch-Indonesian 'ancestor' wants to change name, because Coen is also accused of Genocide, because of his order to kill the majority of the population of the island of Banda, some 2000 civilians, in 1621. The only reason was that Coen wanted to have a monoply in the trade of nutmeg, while the population wanted to sell to everybody who gave them a good or better price.
Also in his native town og Hoorn, quite a few civilians want to demolish his statue.

The action against the memory of Coen is part of a large act of confession of the Dutch nation. Most serious are the crimes because of slavery. Professor Piet Emmer, emeritus in colonial history of Leiden University made a claim that slaves in Surinam held by plantation owners got better food, clothes and housing than their family in Africa. True or not? Ewald van Vutg wrote a book Roofstaat or 'Nation of Robbers' accusing Dutch colonialism of all kind of dirty acts. Following this discussion the museum Mauritshuis in The Hague removed the statue of Prince Maurits to the basement.
In a new action of parliament there was a debate about the fate of the Armenians in 1915: they were considered as traitors and enemies by the Turkish government, forced to leave and about 1- million, perhaps many more died in this action to eradicate Armenians from turkey. Dutch parliament accepted the terminology of Genocide for this case, but did not debate the status of Jan Pieterszoon Coen: selective memories and judgments about the past! In fact in Dutch parliament there are now six MPs of Turkish-Dutch offspring. One voted against the label of genocide, five were in favour. In fact it was not only about the past but also about the position towards the present policies of President Recep Tayyib Erdogan.
In my interaction with Indonesians since my first visit to the country, for the pesantren PhD. research in 1970-1 I have often talked about the colonial past, but seldom with judgments about good or bad. We cannot change it any more and strong statements do not remove, remake or soothen the past. It will remain with us.

zondag 14 januari 2018

FKUB: between bureaucracy and a creative spirituality of elections

FKUB or Forum Komunikasi Umat Beragama is created by Indonesian law in 2006 as a body of local religious leaders that must give advice for inter-religious harmony. In 1980 Minister of Religion Alamsyah Ratu Perwiramegara already created a National Body for Consultation of the Religious Communities (Wadah Musyawarah Antarumat Beragama), but after 1990 we did not hear much of its initiatives (after more than 500 pamphlets and books were published as reports of meetings in one decade, anyway!).
The FKUB must be created on the level of provinces, kabupaten and kecamatan: until the small towns and at sub-district level.
I am now writing on ecumenical circuits and networks, in preparation for an international conference in Hong Kong, 13-14 April this year, and so I take also in consideration the inter-religious circuits as the macro-ecumenism, against the internal Christian networks as micro-ecumenism. However, most reports support the idea of FKUB in a general and idealistic way, but not many of its concrete initiatives are shown: in many places it is not (yet) really functioning. The Ahmadiyyah problems of 2008 and later were not solved by FKUB because they are not seen as an inter-religious, but internal Muslim conflict.
Now there was a special news about an initiative of FKUB in Papua. From noon Thursday 11 January 2018 until sunset the following day, leaders of the major religions joined a new style of fasting as preparation for a peaceful election of local administrators (pilkada aman damai). President of the FKUB Papuya is the Roman Catholic priest Linyus Biniluk. Buddhists, Muslims, Protestants and Catholics joined this Assisi-style prayer and fasting. There are pictures of a meeting in a universal style of hotel, people sitting like common bureaucrats, but this Papua dancing is specific for the event. May peace be supported during the coming period! May God bless the people of Papua, especially while praying and performing new rituals in this way!

zaterdag 6 januari 2018

Religious elements in Eka Kurniawan, compared with Ayu Utami

Only now I have read a first novel by Eka Kurniawan. It was hit first Cantik itu luka, from 2002, and I used the Dutch translation by Maya Liem, published in 2016.
The book is written in de magic-realistic style, which we also know from Ayu Utami's Bilangan Fu and where the Japanese author Murakami is a well-known representant.
It is realistic: the main figure is a pretty Eurasian lady Dewi Ayu, born about 1925, who was forced to become a prostitute in the Japanese administration. She has four daughters: no 1 marries a Javanese soldier who already was fighting the Japanese in 1943-5, then as a guerilla warrior aginst the Dutch, but later he became a corrupt military officer of the Indonesian army. No 2 marries a  handsome and intelligent man who becomes a Communist, leads the poor fisherman aginst the military who receive money from the fleet of big ships fishing illegally. No 3 marries a thug who become a great criminal in a harbour place in Southern Java (Parangtritis? Cilacap? Pengandaran? Pelabuhan Ratu?) No 4 is the mythical one, very ugly and gifted with magical elements. She plays a minor role.
Many historical details are used here, not in the heroic style of the Suharto period but in the critical, even somewhat cynical style of the Reformation Period, after 1998. So, there is much emphasis on the conflict among the Indonesians in the period 1945-1949, Communists against Nationalists, people who sought a military career against  those who did not like fighting. The prisoners in Buru in the 1970s, the oppression of nationalism in East Timor by the army.
It is a cruel book full with drama, killings, forced sex: it is not a romantic and soft book.
Especially the ghosts of the 'Communists' are described as frightening and dominating the lives of many people. They are afraid that the ghosts will take revenge for the cruel killings. They are anxious that curses will effect their life.
There are several religious elements in the book, besides the myths and magical effects of the ghosts: official Islam only enters in two ways: the penghulu is necessary for an orderly bureaucracy of marriage and the imam takes care for prayers at burials. That is all for Islam: only these two rituals.
There are some references to Mary, mother of Jesus. First on page 15-6 where she is seen as a resting place for the divine son, compared with the two wives of Pandu andf their sons. Dewi Ayu is (p. 144) seen as born in a Catholic family and she joins the teacher training at the Franciscan Sisters (of Mendut?) Page 338: No woman can be pregnant without sexual intercourse, unless you believe that Mary gave birth to Jesus without a relation with a man!
On the whole, however, the description of religious ideas and practices is only in passing, without depth and often negative: not a positive value but only something to become afraid, especially the ghosts of killed Communists.
How different from Ayu Utami who in Bilangan Fu 2008) gives much attention to the ecological spirituality of Suhubudi and his padepokan, some kind of Neo-Javanism, where religious traditions of Java are open also for modern thinking and the global traditions of Islam and Christianity. The same can be found in her Saman and Larung (resp. of 1998 and 2001).
But on the whole the story of Cantik itu luka is fascinating reading agianst the background of modern Indonesia.