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Editorial: In Jakarta, Signs of Creeping Intolerance
November 30, 2010
Indonesia has always prided itself in its social and political tolerance toward all citizens, no matter what their faith or background. Now, radical organizations are pushing these boundaries and sowing distrust and hatred. (JG Photo)
The results of a survey by a nongovernmental organization on rising religious intolerance in Greater Jakarta make for chilling reading. More than half of those surveyed said they would not accept people of different faiths within their neighborhoods.
Conducted by the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace , the survey also found residents of Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi to be easily swayed economically, socially and politically.
The survey, conducted from Oct. 20 to Nov. 10 , had 1,200 randomly sampled respondents.
It is truly alarming that nearly 50 percent said tolerance of different faiths and ethnic groups was limited to social relations.
This meant they would not accept a person of a different faith in their family and would not consent to the building of a house of worship in their community.
It should also be of concern that 41.9 percent said economic injustice was the main cause of terrorism.
This showed that for much of the population, there was no correlation between radical organizations and terrorism.
Greater Jakarta represents a microcosm of the entire country.
If Jakarta, the most cosmopolitan city in the country, is growing increasingly intolerant, the rest of the country may well follow suit.
With half the country’s population now urbanized, more and more people of different faiths and ethnic backgrounds will find themselves living side by side.
If the trend toward growing intolerance continues, the prospects of ethnic friction becomes much greater.
Indonesia has always prided itself in its social and political tolerance toward all citizens, no matter what their faith or background. Now, radical organizations are pushing these boundaries and sowing distrust and hatred.
People are routinely attacked because they have different beliefs.
Take the case of the Ahmadiyah, a minority Muslim sect that has been the target of violence and persecution in the past few years, especially in West Java and Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara.
The group, which had lived for decades in peace with its mainstream Muslim neighbors, suddenly became the target of violence after the reform era.
This trend must be arrested immediately if we are to keep the social fabric from being torn to shreds.
The government must enforce the law fairly and impartially against those who incite and exert violence on others.
We must bring back the philosophy of living peacefully and harmoniously with peoples of all faiths.
Allowing certain groups to hijack religion for narrow political goals will lead to the disintegration of the nation.
Everyone should be reminded that our country’s founder had set down a powerful motto for this nation: Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, which means Unity in Diversity.