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Wahid Foundation Reemphasizes Challenges of Religious Politicization and Hate Speech

Yogyakarta - In front of over 80 participants in “Interfaith Dialogue in the Context of Indonesia: Challenges and Future Prospects,” Alamsyah M. Dja’far, Program Manager of the Wahid Foundation, reemphasized Wahid’s institutional analysis of increasing violations of freedom of belief and religion throughout 2017.

“The increase in cases of violation should not be indicative of an Indonesian society that is allergic to differences in religion or belief, but rather is indicative of a form of success in the practice of religious politicization,” he explained, in Yogyakarta, Tuesday (6/8).

According to Alam, religious politicization is the practice of misusing religious symbols in political contestations at the local to national level. Throughout 2017, WF recorded 28 religious politicization incidents with over 36 noted actions – most occurring in DKI Jakarta, as much as 24 incidents. Meanwhile, in West Java, there were three recorded incidents. While in Banten, one incident was reported. The latter provinces held local elections in 2017. “These findings show that what happened in Jakarta did not significantly influence the events in West Java and Banten,” Alam added.

In addition to emphasizing the importance of acknowledging religious politicization, Alam, also the writer of “(In) toleransi: Memahami Kebencian dan Kekerasan Agama” [(In) tolerance: Understanding Religious Hatred and Violence)], also raised the issue of the rise of hate speech cases. “In an era where we are still going to be facing more hate speech cases, it seems that cases of physical violence have started to decrease based on our findings.”

The interfaith event held in the Kristen Duta Wacana University in Yogyakarta is part of a series of programs under Studi Intensif Tentang Islam (SITI) [Intensive Study on Islam]. “Participants in this seminar are comprised of SITI participants and the general public,” said Wahyu Nugroho, one of the event’s organizer as well as a Professor in UKDW’s Interfaith and Islamic Studies Faculty.

Wahyu Nugroho, who holds a Master in Theology, explained that his campus invited WF in order to gain a big picture understanding of the challenges in interfaith and intrafaith relations based on research that the foundation founded by KH Abdurrahman Wahid has done.

Apart from Alam, this dialogue was also attended by Armada Riyanto, a catholic clergyman and professor at the Widya Sasana Higher Education for Philosophers from Malang; Haidar Bagir, founder of the Mizan publishing company; Tulus Warsito, a professor of international affairs in the Muhammadiyah University in Yogyakarta (AMDJ).

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