dinsdag 26 november 2013

Elga Sarapung, Welcoming in Vienna

Last week Elga Sarapung gave a talk at the WCRP Conference in Vienna, as I wrote already earlier in my blog. She has sent to friends her talk about the theme of the conference: in a time of global migration there is a need for welcoming the other even welcoming each other.
In her speech she mentioned in one sentence three major sermons for mankind: the Buddha in Benares, the Sermon of the Mount of Jesus and the farewell sermon of Muhammad, all three stressing the mutual love for the other. That is the kalimatus sawa the backbone of the document  'A Common Word'. About Indonesia she regretted the mechanism that a majority is claiming more rights than the minorities are given. Therefore groups like Ahmadiyah, Shia Muslim in Madura/Sampang, but also Christians like GKI Taman Yasmin suffer discrimination. One quote:
In times like this, we need, not only smart, but also wise, firm, courageous, and committed government that has the much-needed integrity based on Pancasila and the Constitution, from the local one to the national one. We acknowledge and appreciate the effort put by several local governments, which have the capability and have implemented it in reality. 
 About majority-minority, I was thinking about a case I heard a few years ago in Nottingham: for the first time a Muslim, Mohammed Munir, was elected Lord Mayor of Nottingham (period 2006-2008). The inauguration usually took place in a religio-civil service in the Anglican Church, with a prominent role for the clergy. Mohammed Munir wanted to continue this tradition. The clergy made some changes in the formulas, in order to make them more acceptable to people of other religions as well, but the tradition could be continued in Nottingham Cathedral!
Elga also added a quote from Muhammed the Prophet through Djohan Effendi:
Seeing how it is in reality today, I am intrigued to quote what  is stated in Djohan Effendi’sbook. He quoted what Prophet Muhammad, s.a.w. once said, “I am worried,  there will come a time when Islam is just like another  name, Al Quran is just words,  mosques are seemingly full with people but absent of  directions, religious figures are as evil as humans under the roof of the sky, and from and to  them comes lies.” Even though his saying was directed for muslims, but I think and I believe  other religious groups other than muslims feel  and experience the same way in their own groups. 
We need more couragious attacks on the monopoly of the monotheist religions. 

dinsdag 19 november 2013

Small talk about big questions: Elga Sarapung in Utrecht

Last week, 13 and 14 November 2013, Elga Sarapung was in Utrecht, on het way to the WCRP meeting in Vienna. We had a long chat about recent developments in Indonesia in the guest house of the Protestant Churches in Utrecht and a dinner with some 12 people in the house of Jootje Wawoeroentoe, in Oegstgeest. Below a picture of the tabel in the house of Jootje, with Jasper Slob besides Elga and Jootje. At Jootje'place Elga has a more structured story, telling about the half-way politics of SBY, promising defense of freedom of religion for all people, but in fact a uite selective policy of seeking the easiest way. Leaving Ahmadiyah and the strange but lively new Shi'a community in Madura seeking their own rescue, allowing Front Pembela Islam, the Muslim Maffia, to burn houses, kill people. DIAN stand for interreligious and human rights issues: for the latter she concentrated on Papua, where three meetings have taken place between the Papuan advocates of Papua Land of Peace and representatives of the army and the central government.
In a private conversation Elga gave much more details about many figures: not the great ideas, but the individual players ask for attention, because so much depends on the individual figures. She gives much more information than one easily may get from reading the Jakarta Post or UCAN on the internet, or talking with other individuals.
The wordt minister in the SBY-government is without doubt minister of religion Suryadharma, who was leader of the small Muslim party P3, and still works as if he is a party-man. He asked for the hard line against Ahmadi-believers, he only asked Shi'a people in Madura to 'return' to orthodox Sunni Islam. He does not defend the religious minorities, but only looks at his own religious family. He was a successful advocate for more money for madrasah education, not to the best development of children in poor region, as a way to their development in society, but only as a power base: more money means more jobs and a larger clientele.
Holland Taylor is a rich American who 'helped' Gus Dur and Syafii Ma'arif to write and publish the famous book Ilusi Negara Islam, but he is manipulating, building a network and power for himself and his LibforAll movement. He married a Javanese lady from the Borobudur region and lives now in Yogyakarta. Elga once was asked to have an interview with him. She had only one hour and he refused: he needed more time, but did not propose an agenda. His agenda is not really clear. Who is behind him? Is there someone behind him? CIA? It is difficult to believe that such an individual has a cultural mission (tolerance, harmony between people) for people in a foreign country and then works on his own. Elga does not know the details about him. At least it is clear that circles of Muhammadiyah and NU are now hesitant about his role and some regret the publication of the book in 2009.
Said Aqil Siraj is a good person, promotor of interreligious relation within NU, but the PKB party has been split into three fractions. Syafii Maarif has problems with his health and was for heart problems in a hospital, but is reciovering now and just left th hospital.
Heru Prakoso SJ was for a long time in Rome, where he finished his PhD. He is now finding his place and position in Indonesia. At one occasion (debate about a dissertation of a religious nun Beyond Pluralism, at Driyarkara in Jakarta, the nun is India, lives in Indonesia; concentrated on K√ľng and Husayn Nasr) he was somewhat arrogant, did not yet find the right tone. Also among the pluralists themselves it is sometimes difficult to find the right harmony. They are also just human beings!
10 December is Hari HAM, the Day of Human Rights. 013 has been declared as Tahun Kebenaran, the year of (respecting, finding, recognizing) thruth. This is sometimes difficult. For the about one million people who were killed in the aftermath of the 30 September Movement, there is still much problem to tell the turth. There is an anti-Communist movement, FAKI, Forum Anti Kommunisme Indonesia wants to continue the hard actions against 'Communists'. But there is also a Masyarakat Anti-Kekerasan in Yogyakarta: against hardline Muslims and freedom for common people to seek their own rule, right or wrong.
The Catholics often seek their own method, are afraid of losing independence while working together with others. ICRS in Yogyakarta has the cooperation of UGM, of the Muslims of UIN and the Protestants of Duta Wacana, but the Catholics do not join this international programme. Archbishop Suharyo, while still in Semarang, pushed the Catholics to cooperate in DIAN, but now in Jakarta he seeks the big hotels and is not a strong defender of human rights against all these politicians. The same must be said of Romo Benny Susetyo. It is the same with Pak Machasin who was at a party of Suryadharma, blaming Ahmadi Muslim for their own fate, and kept silent.
Relation may be complicated: Prabowo was instrumental in the position of Jokowi as Governor of Jakarta. He has a younger brother who is a Christian and is very rich, but Probowo also has a record of use of violence, of killings and manipulation.
Not only the election for a new president in 2014 is coming. There must also be a new leader of PGI, because Yewangoe has already served two periods. Who are the candidates? Not Aritonang or Gerrit Singgih are on the list, but Henriette Hutubarat Lebang (Eri), now serving at CCA in Chiangmai, is for Elga a good candidate. Another is John Ruhulessi of the Ambonese/ Moluccan Church.
It is quite peculiar to hear that Elga with many of these persons is in SMS, or now Facebook contact and follows her basic metwork of several hundred people very close.
We talked als about Din Syamsuddin and Ibu Hartati, of the Walubi, national Buddhist organization, who is now in jail for corruption. A Buddhist monk said, that this could be a time of grace for her because in prison she will be have time enough for meditation. Din Syamsuddin is in Indonesia itself not the most open person for other religions. The harsh fatwa's against pluralism were under his leadership of the MUI in 2005. But he is able to curb the hardliners within Muhammadiyah, where he takes a middle position. Outside Indonesia he is a quite different person: open, the great advocate of peace talks and interelligious harmony. So has was in Rome/Assisi, in South Korea, Busan, at the great assembly of the WCC and he will so be now at the WCRP meeting in Vienna.
His further goals?
The Indonesian Ambassador in Washington is now lobbying for SBY to become the successor of Ban Ki-Moon as general secretary of the UN. Maybe he can full this job? God knows, but Elga knows quite a lot as well.

donderdag 7 november 2013

Jihad Warriors or Losers?

In mid-2000 I was for five weeks a guest lecturer at the Islamic Academy, IAIN Sultan Syarif Kasim. It was a hard time, because I gave about six hours per day courses for some forty up to sixty students in a noisy room. I had to give assignment, do corrections. This experience caused that I decided not to spend my time in this way after retirement. An occasional lecture is OK but teaching courses in such an intense way is not the best job for retired professors! Above all: my wife did not enjoy this period, because she was in a hotel room, while I had to spend so much time teaching. During the weekends we made some nice trips to the palace of Siak, to a very interesting Buddhist shrine in the mountainous region between Pekan Baru and Bukuttingi. But that was not enough to make such a job really attractive.

This was the period of the hard fighting in the Moluccas and the arrival of Lasykar Jihad of Jafar Umar Thalib attacking the Christians of Ambon. During one of the classes I asked my Muslim students whether they new some of these fighters in person. They told me about one or two drop-out students who had failed in their examinations, had no money from their parents, could not earn their own living and therefore were lured by some money and promises of a wife and more money to join the fighting in Ambon.
They also told me about a small mosque/langgar with noisy loudspeakers that was built by a salafi group in Pekan Baru. They preached hatred towards other religions, especiallt Christians, but also against the majority of Muslim in Pekan Baru. Once during the night some people from the neighbourhood had set fire to the small house of prayers and hatred and the section of the town was happy that this had been disbanded.
Talking about the Moluccas in Pekan Baru it was clear for my students that this was a debate about a very distant problem. From Central Sumatra to the Moluccas is nearly as far away as Utrecht is from Syria. That is absolutely a different world and my students did not feel that they as 'Indonesian Muslims' in some way would have been responsible for the problems in such 'other territory'.  They did not see a personal matter here for them.
In the Netherlands there is now a debate about Jihad fighters who go to Syria. Some see them as war criminals, suspected of killings and there are politicians who ask that they should be called to court and be sent to prisons. Other people state that of the some 100 fighters already some 30-50 have returned, and have now problems to adjust to the conditions of the Netherlands. Losers who must be helped to build a decent life rather than criminals.