dinsdag 1 december 2015

Mujiburrahman in Leiden, and the Liberal Paradox

Mujiburrahman gave his farewell talk last week in Leiden, 24 November. He had sent his paper in advance. It is a very detailed account of the preparation of the 2006 joint decision of the Ministers of Internal Affairs and of Religion about permits for building places of worship. Mujib gave it the title: the Liberal Paradox. In order to effectuate freedom of religion (a liberal idea) some regulations must be made, including preventing people from disturbing others. This was the first time a minister took time to have 12 preparatory meetings with representatives of the major religions. All kind of protests arose, but finally a decision was made, some kind of a compromise.
Here Mujib is sitting sbesides Gerry van Klinken who had invited him to Leiden. Not withstanding heavy rain there was an audience of some 25, mostly Indonesians. I talked longer with one of them, a student/teacher from STAI Situbondo: the Theological School of the Pesantren of Situbondo, also for about one month in Leiden with about ten colleagues. In order to be a Muslim scholar in Indonesia it is good to have some Western experiences, at least once a first visit.
Mujib began with a balanced story: protests against the opening of more than 20 churches in Singkili, Aceh, but also the effort to stop building a mosque or even functioning of an existing mosque in Papua where hardline Protestants only want to allow one religion.
The photograph of Depok is a case of its own: Candidate for PDI in the election for mayor of Depok was the young academic (political anthropology) Dimas Aky Nugroho and his vice-mayor to be Babai Suhaimi. Opponents had made banners where they suggest that they are promotors for spread of Christianity and builders of churches (in all villages one church, Halleluya!). This describes the heated atmosphere around the issue. Probably the full paper is available with Mujiburrahman or with this writer.

We had also a short debate about the idea, luanched by Martin van Bruinessen of the Conservative Turn in Indonesian Islam about 2005. Mujib suggested that there were also period of liberal domination and it is an ongoing process: the Japanese occupation caused a conservative turn, as well as the debate about the Mariiage Law of 1974, the rise of ICMI in 1990. But there have been several more liberal period as well.

I wrote also my own version of the 'liberal paradox' in a short account of my personal experiences with Muslim-Christian Dialogue in the Netherlands:

Atheists or religiously indifferent people who have no sensitivity for religious values, are not the best suited for an analysis of religious movements. But, of course one should not be too deep involved in one tradition only. This is perhaps the ‘liberal paradox’ of scholars of religion: they tend to be open for all kind of positive aspects of religion, but do not like to be bound to one tradition alone! 

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