woensdag 3 september 2008

17 year DIAN/Interfidei , 8-10 August 2008, Small religious groups: Ahmadiyah, Samin people and the strong plea by the Raden Ayu, the Wife of Sultan

A quite peculiar gueast at this conference on the future of (religious and etnnic) pluralism in Indonesia was the chief of the police of Jogjakarta (KAPOLDA). He always had wanted to become an imam or Muslim preacher and part of his speech also had the style of a sermon. But he spoke partly from the background of a committed police officer who has to appease conflicting sides: Muslim militias, Ahmadiyah groups who are attacked by them. These Muslim activists can bring large groups to demonstrations and small groups then want violence. Nowadays it is more an internal violence amongst Muslims than a conflict between Muslims and Christians. Farid Wajdi, a critical young activist, representative of LKiS,asked the police official aboutr a special case, when they had asked to halt the acitivists of Forum Pembala Islam. There was no reaction from the police and therefore these more 'liberal' Muslim activists asked the Banser the quite violent youth of Nahdlatul Ulama to protect Christian Churches at Christmas. Why wasn't the police active at that moment? There was not good asnwer to this peculiar question.

Another quite exceptional presentation was in the evening of 9th August, by activists from Northern Central Java, the region of Blora and Pati. Some Suparwadi from Blora introduced an activist from the Samin movement. Samin wqas a movement that was established about 1890 as a local group, opposing further expansion of Islam as a rejection and suppression of Javanese local cultures. They called themselves followers of Adam and vehemently rejected adherence to any global religion. They also rejected some other steps toward 'modern life'. They prefer their local Javanese dialect and try to abstain from speaking modern standard Indonesian, are hesitating to send their children to public schools and in general somewhat resemble the Amish of Pennsylvania. The activist told his story in very elegant Javanese, while Suparwadi translated it in Indonesian (although finally the activist himself also proved to speak quite fluent Indonesian himself). With help from other activists, including the Dipenegoro University of Semarang, two films were made about the movement. The first movie was a quite comic story about efforts by several members of the movement to have an Identity Card (KTP, Kartu Tanda Penduduk) without naming any religious identity on it. In fact, in Indonesia all Identity Cards have the option to register as one out of five religions, no les no more. Only Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Catholic and Protestant are the options. An identity card is needed for electricity in a house, to enter school, to marry, also to have a license plate on a motorbike, or to buy a handphone. The film was a tragi-comic report of unwilling, sometimes even quite relaxed and willing government officials, who could not produce a card from the common computerized system without mentioning on of these five religions. They consider the system as a way to make Islam or another religions obligatory. The other movie was about plans of the great cement factory of Gresik that wants to establish another factory in their region and to buy 2000 ha for the production of cement, including the loss of agricultural land, waste and polution that accompanies the production of cement.

The evening of the 10th August, the concluding evening of the conference, a large audience was invited for the more joyful celebration of 17 years Interfidei with traditional and modern dances and music: from street youth to more or less classical Papua dancing and Javanese women from Bantul. There were, of course, also speeches. The living founding fathers of Interfidei were present, with good memories of the two who had died: Th. Sumartana and Eka Darmaputera. The most exceptional speaker was the wife of Sultan Hamengkubuwono X, who held a very strong plea for the rights of small and local religious movements, for sects and spiritual groups who oppose to becomepart of a global religion. She stated that there is freedom of religion and belief in Indonesia and that the stupid regulation that only five (or six, with Confucianism) can be selected is an insult to the Constitution and also against freedom of religion as proposed by Islam itself with the Qur'anic verse of sura 2:256 that there is no compulsion in religion.

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