When Diversity is Opposed: Religious Group in Indonesia Thinks It’s Illegal for Student to Wear Hijab on Billboars

In December 2016, there was a controversy between Sanata Dharma Catholic University and the FUI religious group. The simplicity of the issue might surprise most people, as it was only about FUI demanding Sanata Dharma’s billboard advertisement to be taken down. Why? Because there was a student wearing hijab on that billboard. Yes, FUI thought that it was illegal for Sanata Dharma to show a hijab-wearer student since the institution was a Catholic university. Educators and leaders from the university refused to take down the billboard because they wanted to show more diversity within the community — besides, there was no such thing as christianization in Sanata Dharma, everyone was freely entitled to any religious choices. Still, the head coordinator of FUI opposed the university’s statement by saying, “Lha, mereka jelas universitas dengan label Kristen, itu kan tidak benar,” (“Well..  the university is labelled as Catholic. Obviously putting that billboard is wrong”). Another controversy regarding hijab-wearer on a Christian’s school advertisement also happened, and it had pretty much the same premise.

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As I’ve said before, this issue is so simple to the point that it probably can’t even be assumed as a controversy. Nonetheless, this billboard thing might be kind of ironic when we see things in a bigger paradigm. In the United States, massive corporations/capitalists try hard to promote ‘the beauty of diversity’, by using every POC (People of Color) available, from Uganda to China, in order to boost their product sales. Corporations competing in business seem to love diversity there (until they realize that there are human resources and ethical problems too, besides gaining mere profit). Yet here we are, in Indonesia, having billboards get taken down for showing one hijab-wearer student in a majority Christian university. Isn’t our country all about Bhineka Tunggal Ika (Different but United)?

It’s also ironic to see how American capitalists love showing off diversity, yet their own government is busy banning Muslims. Fortunately, the Muslim Ban was a transient proposition that failed once it got to the the Supreme Court. However, the ban was still horrifying for U.S citizens. Just because they were Muslims, they could not enter their own country. Imagine that.

With Donald Trump becoming the leader of the Free World, the majority of Americans start to show disgust towards diversity. They (mostly cis, white males) become barbaric, mocking people of color with derogatory words, being unnecessarily physical towards innocent individuals, and even stabbing them to death. A couple of weeks ago, an old black man who loved his own country got stabbed to death by a white nationalist named James Jackson. Revolted by the idea of diversity, Jackson’s main goal in life is to “kill as many African-American men as possible.” Jackson was raised by his devoted Christian parents — as you can conclude now, hate does not see any race, religion and so on.

President Trump opposes diversity and he refuses to accept any immigrants. Even the ones who live inside the country are gradually eradicated by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) officers and are being striped down from individual’s rights or privileges. Just days ago, the U.S launched a missile attack on Syria — most certainly Trump will refuse any Syrian immigrants coming to America, though. See the irony there? Trump decides something on a whim, without any deliberate considerations, but refuses to deal with the aftermath.

If we keep refusing to diversify, how will we grow as a community? As cliche as it may sound, the differences among one another are not something demonic that should be punished. Homogeneity should be celebrated, just like what our slogan says: Bhinneka Tunggal Ika.



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