Indonesia Interfaith Network
Jaringan Antariman Indonesia (JAII)
The situation our country now experiences is regressing day by day. The diversity of religions, beliefs, customs, traditions, and cultures that have lived side by side in this Land of the Archipelago for thousands of years, is experiencing a sharp decline due to a politics of identity being manipulated for the pragmatic interests of power.
This is a saddening development. The effort by the founders of this nation to make the Republic of Indonesia a friendly and civilized common home for diversity and differences is being drawn into conflicts among the nation’s citizens that use religion as a shield for power. The formulation used for the foundation of our Pancasila nation with its Unity in Diversity motto is the common denominator,the “glue”, that has enabled us to survive when other nations in the world met their fates as failed nations.
The era of political reformation has brought many changes, both positive and negative, to our nation. One of the negative impacts of reformation we have felt is the emergence of factions that attempt to force their will in the name of the majority. Even religion has been manipulated to justify the coercive use of power. This situation is threatening efforts to strengthen the spirit of anti-discrimination in Indonesia’s diversity. It is not just a diversity of religions in Indonesia, but there are also many currents of faith that have grown within a religion that, until now, have had a space for mutual dialogue and enrichment. This is a strength in the context of pluralism, but it can also become a nuclear warhead capable of destroying the unity of the nation. Soekarno himself said that democracy that was given life in this nation is a democracy that enlivens and is able to give meaning to differences as a collective strength; it is a democracy that moves towards consensus, not a democracy of the majority, let alone destructive tyranny by a minority.
Addressing the increasing number of demonstrations that exhibit intolerance, we feel these are happening because the government is not seeing clearly the nature of these mass actions. Mass action can be understood as an expression of democracy when it opens up space for deliberation, is conducted voluntarily, is ethical and polite in expressing opinions, and does not involve elements of destruction, dehumanization, and propaganda. However, if demonstrations are used with the intention to destabilize the nation, are directed at national disunity with verbal and written expressions full of hate, rudeness, and threats that create feelings of insecurity, what more when they are thought to be driven by the strength of capital and sensational amounts of money, then it is no longer appropriate to consider such demonstrations as expressions of democracy or as actions of peace. Peace is in appearance only: it is spoken, but not practiced.
Although the mass demonstration in Jakarta on 4 November 2016 in general was said to have been conducted peacefully, we see several defects of democracy in that action. That a large movement of money and the issue of religion were used to divide Indonesian society, including Muslims, is something of which we must be wary. We have seen that the impact of the action was not as extensive as the public rhetoric used in the demonstration. Leaders of the demonstration screamed about a coup d’etat. There was political discourse that incited violence, including that expressed in the name of jihad. There were also efforts to claim this demonstration as representative of Muslims. In fact, from the beginning, the two largest Muslim mass organizations in Indonesia—Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, who have been proven as guardians of the country and of the nation’s unity, refused to participate in this action that was inclined to give rise to a spirit of destruction rather than of benefit.
Therefore, we of the Indonesian Interfaith Network, request that religious believers:
To the Chiefs of the Indonesian Army and Police Force:
To President Joko Widodo:
Jakarta, Monday, 21 November 2016
Elga J. SARAPUNG
Coordinator, DIAN/Interfidei Institute
 The Indonesian Interfaith Network, Jaringan Antariman Indonesia (JAII), was born in Malino in 2002. It comprises individuals and institutions that promote and advocate for issues related to justice, truth, equality, and peace: a) How do we value and respect various social differences, among and within religions, as reflected in the Indonesian national ideology, Pancasila, and 1945 Constitution, that is also an expression of God’s grace? b) How are followers of different religions able to carry out the mandates of their respective religions; i.e., be agents of God’s peace for all of humanity and nature? Those joined in our JAII network include representatives of non-government organizations, the government, higher education, schools, cultural figures, indigenous communities, religious organizations and leaders, etc.. (http://www.interfidei.or.id). Secretariat address: Jalan Banteng Utama 59, Yogyakarta 55581. Telp. 62-274-880149; <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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