At a first glance, Jakarta doesn’t seem any different than other big cities in the world. Sure it may be more chaotic in terms of its underdeveloped infrastructures and public transport, but other than that, its citizen are arguably more moderate and relatively open to new ideas. Thanks to a developing numbers of foreign graduates, different diaspora, or even university graduates in general; You can basically discuss anything openly with the general working class in Jakarta, regardless of your or their social, race or religious background. In short, you can generally found a middle ground when discussing any issues with these people.
But that was at a first glance.
If you look closer into a more underdeveloped part of Jakarta, into the slums, or even as simple as turning into a small street just behind your office tower, you’ll see a growing groups of people who become less and less open to reasons and are prone to provocations.
You can see banners defending a certain religious figure for being prosecuted, and you’ll see banners inviting people to not pray for their friend (who share the same religion as them) because they defended a figure that has different ethnicity and religion, who is facing a blasphemy charge. Banners that people still insisted should be there, even though the government has ruled them as offensive and advice them to put it down. This same people also insisted that the government resume the prosecution and imprisonment of a leader (who had 70% approval rating) for being offensive to their religion (Irony impaired?).
Meanwhile back here where I work, our anchors are now banned from wearing a sleeveless wardrobe because people has apparently found it offensive and wrote to us through email and twitter. This protests comes from the same media sphere that glorifies services like Bigo and taunts its user to flash their breasts and Instagram account that presents sex and nudity as its main content. I’m not saying that I have problem with any of this, I’m just saying that it is just a tiny bit hypocritical isn’t it?
This rise of religious conservatism in Indonesia coincide with the rise of right wing populist movement in the Europe and the U.S. With leaders in at least five big European countries rallying for a more closed border and less open society towards an influx of minority movement.
However, if religion truly is the reason for this movement, then what’s happening here in Indonesia and there in the west can’t be the related to each other. Because here, the people who scares the shit out of those European conservatives are the people who are doing an exact same campaign as the European; only the relationship is now reversed. So is it all purely political, or are these movements truly based on a legit concerns with a good merit that are just misunderstood and unchallenged?
I don’t know.
What I know is that right now, this populist movements are gaining traction and supports, and learning from what happened in the UK and U.S; what might happened, did happened. Conservative majority that has concerns has managed and are willing to take over their country and set aside tolerance and choose not to embrace diversity for their own conservative reasons. And with that in mind, these similar movements in Indonesia that are growing traction and the stubbornness that is actually adored by the majority will only lead to a change from Indonesia being the biggest Muslim population in the world into the biggest Muslim nation in the world. And if I’m being honest with you, people here might actually like the idea of that.
It is now up to us the people to decide which kind of community do we want to live in? Because in the end, we choose the leaders, and the way they sway the country towards can be assessed beforehand. Not only in the executive and local governments level but also at a parliamentary level. Because right now, we still have a president who are still trying to preserve diversity. But in 5 years, with this kind of societal environment, who knows what kind of representatives and leaders will we have. The choice, is ultimately ours.
A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward. – FDR