On April 19, 2017 Indonesians experienced the most intense governor election consisting of two candidates, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok) and Anies Rasyid Baswedan. Ahok is a current governor for Jakarta and a Chinese-Christian (a mass minority in Indonesia) while Anies is a former Minister of Education for the country.
However, that is not the reason why it is so intense.
Ahok was accused of alleged blasphemy for criticizing Muslims that forced other Muslims not to vote for him by mentioning Surah Al-Maidah verse 51. Based on one of the articles from The Jakarta Post, Ahok stated, “In your inner hears, ladies and gentlemen, you may feel you cannot vote for me because you have been lied by the use of Surah Al-Maidah verse 51. So, if you cannot vote for me because you are afraid of being condemned to hell, you do not need to feel uneasy, because you are being fooled. It is alright.”
Even though some Indonesian linguistic experts already asserted that Ahok had not made fun of the Qur’an or Islam, Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and some other Muslims in Indonesia, especially in Jakarta, refused to listen. They still think Ahok did indeed commit blasphemy and he deserves to be imprisoned.
The hatred that spread across social media and news—both online and in print— is the real story. An atmosphere of discrimination against minorities (in this case Chinese Christians) and massive protest to intervene Ahok’s impreachment and force him to go to jail as soon as possible. What’s worse is the government’s inaction on the issue.
Indonesians forget about “Bhinekka Thunggal Ika” or “Unity in Diversity,” the national motto of their country. Now, it seems that motto is just like something that is learned in school— with no one having the actual desire to apply it to their lives. A flurry of stories are being reported on social media where kids start to hate their non-Muslim and Chinese friends. A range of tweets, Facebook statuses, and blog posts are promoting and inciting hate.
Indonesians need to realize is the fact that what is going on right now is discrimination towards some particular groups. This had to stop. From the tragedy in May 1998 that affected Chinese people in Indonesia until the present day, Indonesia’s post-election vibes that become a toxic environment for not only the Chinese but minorities in general.
If there is something that Indonesians can learn from this election, it is that a single word, a single action, and a single phrase can tear diversity apart. A single hateful opinion and a big ego speaking in the name of the “majority” can break the beauty of a country.
The normalization of hatred should never be tolerated, even if it is just a joke. These comments, these actions, and these phrases are affecting real human beings. The majority’s dynamic of shoving an ideology or belief down society’s throat must be looked at critically. All have the right to believe in what they please.
Just stop the hatred and let the diversity become beauty.