Bhineka Tunggal Ika, perhaps the only value that can still somehow keep Indonesia whole.

Religious, racial and intercultural tolerance, is the thing that is somehow always been boasted by a lot of Indonesian as one of our “best value”. With more than 5 religion living together despite of being the biggest Muslim country in the world, Indonesia still managed to accept a Chinese-blooded minority as a governor for their capital city. And he is not the only person holding important position in a governmental level.

A good encouragement of course, especially in the age of intolerance where every prejudice has somehow come true for the sake of mutual hatred. Where the Europeans have sadly been proven right about not accepting refugees, because the terror level there (at least according to media) has allegedly increased.


Anyway, back to Indonesia.

Coming into the first day of Ramadan, A.K.A the most important day for Muslims, I start to questions these brags of Indonesia being tolerance. Not that I was abused for being a minority or anything, but I think our standard of what we call “respecting others” is lower than others out there.

I mean yes, I can go to church peacefully every Sunday, or even during my “big days”. But what they’ve done is simply not protesting or acting against us. Or put it simply, they’ve just basically ignore us. Some people may say that they are respecting us, but I wouldn’t exactly call it “respecting” when the biggest Muslim organisation in the country ban their followers from simply giving a Christmas or Easter greetings. I mean they like the Christmas trees and the fuzzy Santa and all, but that’s about it. There are nothing expected from the Muslim majority towards the minority when it comes to other religion’s big day. They can just simply avoid saying merry Christmas, enjoy their extra holidays and go about their activities normally without even a smallest hint of feeling guilty about it.

To put it in contrast, Just before writing this piece, which is at about 2.30 A.M., a group of kids has just shouted in front of my house, literally banging drums and other noisy pipe thingy, lighting firecrackers, waking up the whole village assuming that all of them are Muslims that needs to prepare for fasting. These assumption would then be generalized into restaurant, bars, and alcohol transaction. Nobody really protested about it of course, because being a minority, most of us just sort of trained to accept those kind of rules. Yet, being scolded for eating in public during a fasting period is not a rare thing.

Moving into a more complicated matter, that is political position.

Yes, technically, and factually, minorities have held important position in the government. Exhibit A, the governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama. Thing is, we must remember that he wasn’t exactly elected to the position. He replaced Jokowi that left the position to be the president. And now, coming into the next regional election, I can literally see posters, banners, and even demonstrations on the street chanting the cliche “choose a Muslim leader” slogan. And guess what? It works. Like it or not, race and religious background is still a very big factor when it comes to choosing an important role in the government.

Don’t get me wrong though, this condition isn’t unlivable at all. I think it is just fine, the way we live in at the moment. I mean with more Muslims than others, chances are, the leader that is suitable for us is Muslim anyway. And those noises in the morning only goes for roughly a month, and even if it wakes us up, it’ll only takes us few minutes before we sleep again right?

That being said, it is in no way ideal, let alone close into being called a tolerant society. What’s so tolerant about ignoring minorities when they do their thing and avoiding doing a little good thing for their celebration? Even If it’s only a small act off kindness in the form of greetings?

I haven’t even touch on laws and regulations, that prohibits inter-religious marriage, that allocates tax payer’s money to subsidies mainly only on one religion, that in some places allow religious law to be enforced without even recognizing any other religion.

When put into perspectives then, Indonesia can barely be called a tolerant country. We just become a sort of country that lets other religion or cultural group lives under its roof, so long as they can accept the majority’s ritual and laws.

If we compare it to somewhere like Australia or UK, we are barely tolerant. I mean if by being tolerant we mean letting other people live besides us as long as they are not bothering us, then yes, we are. But if by tolerant we mean embracing each of every different group’s culture and values, then we are still very far from it.

“Jika kita merasa Muslim terhormat, maka kita akan berpuasa dengan menghormati orang yang tidak berpuasa” – GD


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s