EDITORIAL: Peace Be Upon All
We join with our brothers and sisters across this great land this weekend in celebrating the end of the Islamic fasting month and rejoicing in all that is good in the world: being with family, tolerance and respect for others, no matter what colour or creed.
We are fortunate in this country that the majority, led by pluralistic leaders, embrace their fellow man — Indonesians or indeed foreigners — with welcoming arms and all, for the most part, live together in harmony, particularly on this island where people of all nationalities congregate.
This is as it should be. No one among us can escape the condition of being human; not one of us can claim any semblance of superiority or power over others, though some fervently attempt such doomed endeavours; and no one can — should — set their beliefs on a loftier pedestal than those of anyone else.
Alarmingly, we have been witnessing this year growing levels of intolerance in parts of Indonesia, most notably in West Java, where gangs of Muslims fervently maintain a hysterical persecution of Christian communities, with the daft zeal of someone fighting for their life. There is no need for this at all. We can all live together, and those who seek to attack other religions in this country should turn their mind towards the embracing Constitution, which recognises the five major religions here.
Further afield, in the United States, religious bigotry is also boiling, with reported plans on September 11 by a Christian group in Florida to burn the Islamic holy book. One Muslim leader in the US has called this “idiotic and dangerous.” It is. It is also crass, in the way only American fundamentalists can be. The church rightly has a beef with the perpetrators of the aircraft attacks that killed close to 3,000 nine years ago but that’s no reason for Pastor Terry Jones to strike out at the world’s 1.6 billion followers of Islam. Just as the criminals hijacked those aircraft, they also commandeered their religion. We hope calmer thoughts will prevail on the commemorating day in Florida, because if not, the repercussions are likely to be violent in our country. Already thousands of inflamed Muslims have been protesting at the US embassy in Jakarta. Stoking the flames of others’ religions is of benefit to no one.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has made tentative moves in recent days towards addressing the West Java attacks by Muslims against Christians. He has called for tolerance. His government needs to do a lot more – and strike swiftly to excise this cancer in our society. No one need be afraid or bow to the vigilantism that has been occurring.
Indonesia’s motto is unity in diversity, not uniformity.Filed under: Headlines