By Bambang Muryanto and Wahyoe Boediwardhana
Yogyakarta Governor Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono X and members of the public laid down their opposition on Friday in Yogyakarta to a series of violent actions launched by Muslim organizations to disperse book discussion gatherings with Canadian author Irshad Manji.
Yogyakarta is known as a peaceful area that upholds dialogue and does not have any historical record of violent cases.
“I hope any newcomers to Yogyakarta do not try to impose violence,” Sri Sultan told reporters on Friday.
This was the sultan’s response to the violent actions launched by the Indonesian Mujahedeen Assembly (MMI) when its followers forcefully dispersed a discussion with Manji at the Social and Islamic Studies Institute (LKIS) in Bantul on Wednesday evening.
The sultan strongly emphasized that MMI’s actions at LKIS were not only violent but also criminal. He hoped the case could be legally processed and such actions could be prevented from occurring again.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people grouped under the Yogyakarta People’s Movement against Violence (Gerayak) staged a rally on Friday by unfurling banners that read, “Oppose Religious-backed Fascism” and “Friendly Islam Yes, Violent Islam No.”
Rally coordinator M. Imam Aziz, who is also the deputy chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama, said that the rally was an expression of protest against any forms of violence and anarchy. “Yogyakarta is against violence. We are a community that is democratic, egalitarian and fond of dialogue,” Imam reiterated.
Meanwhile in Jombang, East Java, a group of youths from different faith backgrounds reached a consensus and readied to fight the propaganda of those groups that voiced hatred and enmity against others, especially minority groups in Indonesia, either on behalf of religion or through the Internet.
A growing number of such sites instigating violence against minority groups have been found on the Internet. Such sites appear set to meet with resistance from those campaigning for diversity in Indonesia.
“We will seize public spaces as well as social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, and will take advantage of them in terms of campaigning. The group is called Staramuda Community,” said Aan Anshorim, presidium coordinator of the East Java chapter of the Anti Discrimination Islamic Network (JIAD), on Friday.
Staramuda Community will gather various stories about diversity and peace, which have been forged between youths from various faiths across the country. These inspirational stories will be printed and distributed freely among interfaith communities at mosques, churches and at other places of worship, besides being posted in the Internet.
The consensus was reached during the Jombang Interfaith Youth Meeting on May 6 at the Darul Ulum University auditorium in Jombang.
The meeting, attended by around 80 youths from different faith backgrounds, included a documentary film screening on acts of violence in the name of religion by majority groups against minority groups, such as the attack on the Ahmadiyah in Parung and Cikeusik, West Java.
The film screening was followed by a discussion on efforts to resist and curb the violence, which was said to not reflect Indonesian people’s way of life.
The discussion was attended by speakers like Alissa Wahid from a Muslim youth group, Reverend Nicky Widyaningrum from a Protestant youth group, Father Timotheus Siga from a Catholic youth group and head of Culture and Civilization Affairs of the House of Indonesia Eyik Mustain Romly, who has set up a camping program for interfaith groups.
The camp will involve all religious representatives. Each religion will send six representatives to more fully understand each other’s differences.
— Slamet Susanto contributed to this story from Yogyakarta.
Taken fom The Jakarta Post.