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.

woensdag 16 maart 2016

Hizmet in Africa

Monday 14 March the Dialogue Centre INS of Rotterdam held a meeting in The Hague (not at a great distance, and in cooperation with the new branch of INS in The Hague: some Hizmet people are really fond of founding again and again new organizations!). The occasion was the visit by former American Ambassador to East African countries (last in Ethiopia 1997-9) and the book this man, David  H. Shinn, wrote about Hizmet in Africa. The activities and Significance of the Gülen Movement, (Los Angeles: Tsehai 164pp; 2015).

Shinn was in the region in the period  1983-2000 and then moved to Washington, to teach in an academic position. It is a no-nonsense book with chapters 3-7 on the major activities. 3 is about the business people who entered the region (often before embassies were established, in 2008 only slightly over ten embassies in Sub-Shara Africa; this changed to 27 in 2014). In 2008 there were already Hizmet schools in 27 African countries. Business people of TUSKON began with the first activities. They also introduced Bank Asya as a shari'a interest-free banking system. Chapter 4 is about the schools. There is only one in the Arab speaking countries of North Africa (in Morocco),because Arab people seem to be less receptive to Hizmet and the Gülen Movement (46, also 67, 74, 131-4).  Nigeria has at least 17 schools and the only Hizmet university in Africa. Chapter 5 is about the Dialogue Centres, 6 about Kimse Yok Mu, 7 about the media.

Chapters 1/2 and 8/9 have more general discussions about the international Gülen movement. Shinn has some criticism: the teachers who were sent from Turkey sometimes have a poor command of English. The same I heard from the son of Syafa Almirzanah who followed the Hizmet school  in Semarang. This boy was in a primary school in the USA and found the Turkish teachers also quite deficient in their English.
Shinn describes Hizmet in Africa as a very Turkish organization. Most students in schools and also people who join the TUSKON activities think that these are initiatives  by the Turkish State and not by a religious organization, based on the teachings of Fethullah Gülen. In these societies the influence is also quite recent and still very modest.
The whole Muslim world is divided in seven great cultures that are quite separate: the three old ones (Arab, Persia, Turkish) remain distinct. The three later regions (India/Pakisten, Southeast Asia and Subsahara Africa) also have their own organizations. Probably support for the ideas of Gülen is most artuculated in the most recent Muslim culture of the western countries of Europe and America.
I have written more about this book, but will place the longer version of the review on

donderdag 3 maart 2016


For the CMR project: the bibliography of Christian-Muslim Relations, i have written the entry on Rumphius (together with Lucien van Liere). Rumphius is a naturalist, interested in geology, but most of all in biology, plants and animals. He writes also about circumcision in Ambon: pre-Islamic and the Protestant ministers were not able to ban it from the Christian community.
The most obvious sign of being Muslim is wearing a turban, while Christians wear the Dutch hat. He has a nice (but also cruel) story of  Joan Paijs from Hative, a Christian village on the eastern beach of Hitu. Close to the 'Muslim half' of Ambon, or even encircled by it. At one moment in history Joan Paijs joined the Muslims against the Dutch and converted to Islam. He was taken to Ambon castle where he was interrogated. In the book by Livinus Bor on the war of 1651-1566 of Arnold de Vlaming van Oudshoorn, it is told that  when he was asked why he had joined the Muslim party, although born a Christian he is quoted to have said: Het Kristen geloof (dit waren Pays eige woorden), is voor my maer een uiterliken schijn, want ik Moors van inborst ben (Christianity is only and outward appearance for me –according to his own words- because my soul is Muslim). 

But the story of Rumphius is even more interesting. In the process it was mentioned that he had slept often with a turban (Historie I:53-56). Also other documents from this period tell us that wearing a turban, rather than circumcision, was the outward sign of being a Muslim (Niemeijer and Van den End 2015: I:248, Muslims re-converting to Christianity burn their turbans). Rumphius has here nice additions to the story of Livinus Bor. The society as suggested by Rumphius shows the mirror image of the Ottoman empire with its dhimmi status for non-Muslims. In the Moluccan VOC territory the Muslims could be ruled by their own people, had some freedom for free practice of their religion, but conversions were prohibited and there were special privileges for Christians as members of the dominating religion.

For this issue I looked also inthe six volumes of Niemeijer/Van den End on the Protestant Documents for East Indonesia in the VOC period. There are 8 places where the turban in mentioned as a signof a Muslim identity. Among these some three stories of villages who (re)converted to Christianity and as a sign of this they set fire to their turbans (I,1:248) or took of their turban. Propagating Islam takes place through the donation of beautiful and splendid turbans (I,1 412; II,1: 155).