In an ideal Indonesia, a Papuan man would live in Jakarta and become a civil servant. He would marry a Padang woman from western Indonesia. They would open a small restaurant and hire a young Sundanese woman. Their customers would be a mix of Javanese, Betawi and other ethnic groups.
This was the scenario of a TV sitcom, “Minus Family,” that aired a few years ago, for which I was a head writer. The show tried to tap Indonesia’s obsession with diversity and harmony, which is encapsulated in the state motto, “We are all different but we are one.” An obsession with diversity and harmony that, in reality, often ends in violence.… Seguir leyendo »
When Joko Widodo, the incumbent president of Indonesia, last year chose Ma’ruf Amin as his running mate for the general election this April, it became clear that Indonesian politics is now backed into a corner. Mr. Ma’ruf is an Islamic cleric and scholar, and Mr. Joko was perhaps hoping to dampen attacks from conservative and radical Islamic groups that have called him anti-Islam (even though he is Muslim himself). Instead, he has built a Trojan horse for his opponents outside the walls of his own city.
The presidential race, in which Mr. Joko is again facing Prabowo Subianto, a ex-army general and former son-in-law of the dictator Suharto, looks like a replay of the 2014 contest.… Seguir leyendo »
Rizieq Shihab may be the most controversial public figure in Indonesia today. Admired by many, reviled by others, the Great Imam of a leading hardline Muslim organization is wanted for pornography.
Mr. Rizieq heads an organization no less controversial than he: the Islamic Defenders Front (in Bahasa, Front Pembela Islam, or F.P.I.), which is best known for promoting the application of Shariah throughout Indonesia, sometimes with hate speech. He rides around in a Jeep Rubicon, wearing all-white robes, his left hand on a microphone, his right index finger pointing to the sky. He sermonizes in a deep, strident voice and leads demonstrations, often violent, against bars and clubs and other places he calls “immoral.”… Seguir leyendo »
“Look, Sir,” the taxi driver said to me, pointing at a newly built five-story building. “That’s a community health center. At one point it had practically collapsed, and now it’s five floors high!”
“I’m a Muslim, Sir,” he added. “I can see that Jakarta is finally being developed properly. I’ve been in the streets every day for 15 years, and only now can I say that things are working as they should.”
Damn, I thought. It was three days before the second round of the gubernatorial election in Jakarta last month, an epic drama about race and prejudice that has divided people throughout Indonesia — at the presidential palace, in mosques, across social media and in many homes.… Seguir leyendo »