The hanging lamp arrangement in the Jakarta Creative Hub (JCH) media exhibition, Central Jakarta highlighted one of the works in the form of a conversation between a cartoon character and multi-ethnic Malaysians.
"To be born Chinese, is that your choice?"
The same question is written over and over. Addressed to other ethnicities in Malaysia, such as India and Malays. The cartoonist behind the work seems to have feelings of dissatisfaction, and is at the same time resentful of the intolerance in his country, especially when the political contestation in the neighboring country is taking place. In 2018, for example, many citizens rejected the ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).
“Being born in a certain tribe is not your choice. It is God's will. So, who gave you the right to be racist? " so asked the cartoonist in the work exhibited through the diversity festival entitled Different Varieties, Mutual Greetings, which was held by the Association of Indonesian Media Development (PPMN).
The simple shading was made by a Malaysian cartoonist, Zulkiflee Anwar Haque (Zunar). During the Najib Razak regime (2009-2018), this political cartoonist born in 1962 repeatedly fought against the government through caricatures. He has also repeatedly faced prison charges because he was deemed to have committed defamation and violated the Sedition Act of 1948. Apart from being prohibited from traveling abroad until 2018, out of 19 cartoon collection books, 12 of them were banned from circulating. Even the neighboring country government has arrested three publishers who print Zunar cartoon books.
"According to Malaysian regulations, the publisher's name must be put on the front page of the book, otherwise the book is considered illegal. In order for the publisher to print, I have black covered the publisher's name on the front cover. I sent a note to the police, if you want to know who the printer is, please rub the black cover and win, ”said Zunar to the laughter of dozens of discussion participants, Wednesday, January 9, 2020.
After the election, he was determined to "rebuild the nation" Malaysia through the publication of a book entitled anti-racism caricatures Rebuilding Nation. The book, which was published at the end of 2019, contains 48 caricatures that want to reject racial discrimination. According to Zunar, the Malaysian prime ministerial election in 2018 had damaged tolerance and diversity in his country. He said, hatred and racial sentiment still persisted, even though the election was over.
"In Malaysia, most people blaspheme based on emotion, lack facts or are not given education," said Zunar.
Similar to Indonesia, polarization due to differences in political choices still occurs, even though the elections have ended. Alissa Wahid, Coordinator of the GusDurian Network, revealed that the use of intolerant messages in elections has long-term impacts. "The election yesterday was like sticking a nail into a board where the hole marks will be left even if the nails have been removed," said Alissa.
The wave of religious sentiment in Indonesia was initially instigated in the Jakarta regional head election (Pilkada) in 2017. In the midst of political contestation, some people used the issue of blasphemy as a commodity to discredit one of the candidates, namely Basuki Purnama (Ahok). The former governor of DKI Jakarta was charged with Article 156a on Blasphemy of Religion. Not only that, a similar issue has also colored the 2019 presidential election. “Religious sentiment is common between groups. Unfortunately once there is political contestation and power struggles it becomes an axis to destroy each other, "said Alissa.
This, according to Alissa, has led to a shift in religious practice in Indonesia from being inclusive to being exclusive and not accepting differences. This shift is dangerous if there is no protection for minority groups. He said, this condition was exacerbated by the weakness of legal protection for minority groups. They often become victims when faced with the majority. "Law enforcement officials put" harmony "as number one at the expense of the constitutional rights of minority groups," said Alissa.
Through the Gusdurian Network that is spread across 140 cities, Alissa has built safe spaces for vulnerable groups. Through this movement, Alissa advocates and campaigns for tolerance to the family room. This is because, according to him, religious conservatism often grows in the family. One of the things that Alissa highlighted is the movement for women to return home, the narrative of accepting polygamy, so that Indonesia without dating has increasingly marginalized women and children.
"If we don't respond quickly, in twenty years the population status, women and children will change," he assured.
The results of a survey by the Center for Islamic and Community Studies (PPIM) of the Syarif Hidayatullah National Islamic University, Jakarta, which was released in 2017, for example, showed that 51,1% Muslim students / students have intolerant opinions towards minority Islamic schools. Among the minority Islamic sects are Ahmadiyah and Shia.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) researcher Andreas Harsono stated that Indonesia has experienced an increase in intolerance since the era of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's administration. At that time, the government strengthened the blasphemy law in 2004. HRW noted that at least 125 people were imprisoned for allegedly committing blasphemy. Meanwhile, other data shows the closure of 1056 churches. He said, this act of intolerance was marked by the formation of the Forum for Religious Harmony (FKUB) in 2004.
Therefore, according to Andreas, one of the ways to reduce discrimination is to remove all discriminatory regulations. In addition, the role of journalists is also important in exposing cases of discrimination experienced by minority groups. He said that apart from having the courage to write, journalists also need to be free from bias. The results of the Pantau survey in 2012 stated that journalists reproduce hatred towards minority groups as reflected in the diction elections.
"Bias among journalists is one of the problems, not to mention that the institutions that facilitate discrimination are being strengthened. Many of our leaders don't know or who know but don't dare, ”said Andreas.
Meanwhile, Janet Steele, Professor of Media and Public Affairs and International Affairs Columbian College of Art & Science said that good journalism practices will help increase tolerance in society. Good journalism practice must meet at least nine elements of journalism, including telling the truth, loyalty to the community and verification. However, according to Janet, journalists do not have to focus solely on cases, but also seek solutions in the form of efforts that have been made by the community in fighting intolerance. "Independent media is more important," said Janet. (Deborah Blandina Sinambela)