In parts of Indonesia there are groups who seek to forcibly impose their view, ideology and creed upon their neighbours – or expel them from the community.
They reject any notion of pluralism, deeming their way the only way, even though that fine concept is a tenet of the constitution.
In Java recently one such prejudiced crowd tried to tear down an under-construction building they (wrongly) feared would be a Christian church. They were horrified at the prospect of a visible structure of another religion encroaching onto their territory. In such blinded strikes, regrettably there is no police presence, or action thereafter, owing to an underlying fear of such volatile groups, who hold the law hostage.
Just this week, a group of hardliners were on the streets of the capital denouncing a homemade sex video that appeared on the internet and called for stonings and public whippings.
A Jakarta statue had earlier been the target of their ire, and was removed from a housing estate. Angry demonstrators had said that under Islam, no depictions of the human form are permitted.
Enter Bali’s Governor I Made Mangku Pastika, who has reportedly purchased the uplifting sculpture, a sign not only of respect for the arts but a clear signal that our island is one that welcomes all beliefs and opinions, and listens to objections with clarity and maturity.
Here, there is no place for frenzy and hysteria. We applaud the governor’s move and expect that the monument will be proudly displayed here for all to see – as part of Bali’s commitment to unity and diversity, principals upon which this country was founded.
And in the meantime the authorities would do well to take notice that there is little support for hardline groups in this country of almost 240 million, a fact starkly reflected in national elections.