What does Osama bin Laden’s death mean to Indonesia?

Twitter went wild yesterday with the death of Osama bin Laden when it was officially announced by Obama (yes, I better make sure I don’t make the same typo). Big news, but I actually would think that it doesn’t mean much to Indonesia.

Twitter went wild yesterday with the death of Osama bin Laden when it was officially announced by Obama (yes, I better make sure I don’t make the same typo). Big news indeed, but I actually would think that it doesn’t mean much to Indonesia.

Firstly Obama’s speech was a smart one, winning cookie points with the Muslim world with this statement:

As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not –- and never will be -– at war with Islam. I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.

The Vatican also issued a statement shortly after Osama bin Laden’s death which is aptly put:

“Faced with the death of a man, a Christian never rejoices but reflects on the serious responsibility of each and every one of us before God and before man, and hopes and commits himself so that no event be an opportunity for further growth of hatred, but for peace,”

I have never understood the minds of people who kill by the name of religion, and Osama bin Laden certainly was a poster boy for this ideology. If his death would mean anything to Indonesia, first of all, it would be a signal that as long as anyone is there spreading terror, there would also be people against it. So for some, Osama bin Laden’s death might be a victory, but for the world to be cheering about it, it’s an overstatement.

Terror is a concept, it’s created in our minds. Waging war against terror, in my view, would be difficult to measure. To which point does the war end and who can be determined as the winner?

If fear spreads, then terror already won. But if in the case of a bomb, a conflict, or a riot happened and the citizens remain vigilant and calm, then terror have lost. When the JW Marriot bombing happened in 2009, the #indonesiaunite movement was an example that we refuse to be in a state of fear and be united against terrorism.

If Osama’s death is any indication that the war on terror has been won, then that is a false sense of achievement. Indonesia has been facing an increasing number of religious-related violence, and the fact that the government is doing very little about it means that they are condoning such behavior.

I wouldn’t be relieved that Osama bin Laden has died, if the spread of radicalism, hatred and intolerance is still there. So as long as it is still there, especially in Indonesia who is supposedly built on the principle of unity in diversity, I don’t think Osama bin Laden’s death means much to the people here.

Feel free to put in your thoughts in the comments below.

Paying the Price of Ignorance

17 years ago, the world stood by as an estimated number of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were mass slaughtered by the exteremist Hutus in Rwanda. What is now known as a genocide, was very much debatable back then when the ordeal happened. The international community, who had in their disposal the power to intervene and act, unfortunately were too ignorant to do so and it inevitably led to the gruesome epilogue that we have bitterly learned today.

17 years ago, the world stood by as an estimated number of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were mass slaughtered by the exteremist Hutus in Rwanda. What is now known as a genocide, was very much debatable back then when the ordeal happened. The international community, who had in their disposal the power to intervene and act, unfortunately were too ignorant to do so and it inevitably led to the gruesome epilogue that we have bitterly learned today.

Continue reading “Paying the Price of Ignorance”

On the point of religious tolerance

If there’s one topic that I’d like to avoid when I write, it’s actually about religion. If you’re like any other Indonesian, religion goes deeply into each of us; it’s embedded into your system of values and how you live and treat others are based on what you believe in. Thus, when one speaks of religion, it is hard to separate between logical arguments and what your faith has told you to do. As we’ve witnessed recently in Indonesia, speaking about religion and practicing it- to a certain extent-if not done ‘correctly’, you are prone to ill treatment from others who are different than you.

So I cautiously ask, does religious tolerance still exist (or has it ever existed) in Indonesia?

If there’s one topic that I’d like to avoid when I write, it’s actually about religion. If you’re like any other Indonesian, religion goes deeply into each of us; it’s embedded into your system of values and how you live and treat others are based on what you believe in. Thus, when one speaks of religion, it is hard to separate between logical arguments and what your faith has told you to do. As we’ve witnessed recently in Indonesia, speaking about religion and practicing it – to a certain extent – if not done ‘correctly’, you are prone to ill treatment from others who are different than you.

So I cautiously ask, does religious tolerance still exist (or has it ever existed) in Indonesia?

Continue reading “On the point of religious tolerance”