I Am a Minority, and I Will Accept No More

Thursday, 11 May 2017 - 12:04:45 WIB
By : Ira Guntur | Category: Politics - 6812 hits
My husband is privileged in this country. A male pribumi, a Javanese Muslim. He has no clue what it’s like to live as a member of the minority group. 

Not his fault of course. But he would never know what it’s like to be bullied because your eyes are slanted and because the color of your skin is yellow. No idea what it feels like to be required to produce hundreds of documents when applying for a passport (thank God the Soeharto era is over).

I am a Chinese descendant. My paternal grandfather came from south of China as a trader (not slave) and my maternal grandfather has been in the country for generations. But my parents have always been nationalists.

I do not have a Chinese name because I was born after the government required all ethnic Chinese to adopt Indonesian names. Growing up, I was sent to learn Balinese dancing and to love the Indonesian art and culture including traditional costume, from kebaya to baju bodo. My dad – a sports lover – believes that as a nation, we all should be proud when the Merah Putih is raised in international sports events, because that means an Indonesian (black, yellow, brown or whatever) is bringing pride to Indonesian.

But I do not know if many still share this sentiment. Post May 1998 when the ethnic Chinese were targeted in racial riots, things had been different for us. We were wary, but still optimistic about our country.  Until the election result of the Jakarta gubernatorial election came, and the two-year sentence of Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok) for blasphemy on Tuesday.

When you are different, you want to feel that you are a part of  the majority.  That is only normal; by nature, we want to feel accepted as part of the bigger group. So we adapt; we follow norms.

But what about the majority? Why do they feel so threatened by the minorities?  Are we so different from them that they must suspect us? Do we look strange? Or are we perceived to have some power that they don't have?  

Taking a look at the difference between Ahok’s supporters and those who joined the series of religious-based demonstrations against him, I couldn’t help but noticing the difference. Class. Am I being prejudice?  Well, so sue me. But when Pak Ahok bowed to the judge, when his wife Ibu Veronica played cello in a busway, those are the things that the men in white robes cannot fathom. How would they understand it when, to them, it’s all about shouting and screaming to defend their religion.

Why do they need to defend religion? The religion is solid. And besides, they are the majority. Islam is the religion of choice for most people here. You can do anything you want. Build as many mosque as you want. Preach day and night if need be, and no one would complain, fearing the backlash of being persecuted for blasphemy.

Being a member of the minority group sucks. Still, we do not mind. We love the country. We are proud to be part of this amazing country. We wish we could contribute positively to the nation. But what’s the use of pride when your sentiment is not reciprocated by the other half of the people? And how can you remain hopeful when the law is not on your side, when the majority rules without compassion and integrity? 

For the longest time I was quiet, nrimo or accepting as the Javanese would say. No more. Enough of this. I refuse to be called a kafir. I do not want to see an Indonesia where school kids are separated by their sex or by religions. I do not want to see Indonesia turning into Iran or Afghanistan. It would be too sad. God bless Indonesia.

Ira Guntur was a banker in her previous life but prefers to be in media, NGO and anything related to yoga. She loves books and travelling equally and is currently spending too much time doing home improvement.  

Got an opinion on this issue? Let’s talk about it in the comments section below.

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anak rantua | 11 May 2017 | 16:18:39 WIB
it's all started when Ahok make fun of other people holy book... they deserve to be angry. Now you try to potray this as minority against majority..
Fiona | 11 May 2017 | 22:04:29 WIB
To anak rantua, conflict arises when people only hear what they want to hear. Ahok never make fun of the holy Quran. Listen carefully to what he said. End of story.
Bimo | 11 May 2017 | 22:50:02 WIB
To anak rantua, how do you justify anger? Also, I believe ahok did not make fun of the holy Quran.
Perhaps it would do you good to put yourself as a minority before commenting the story of others.
Bara | 12 May 2017 | 06:49:29 WIB
Please see how diversity Indonesia is, and from this point we are Indonesian and has to be equal and treated fairly. The experienced and how to be treated unequally among the minority by the majority actually happen in reality in every side of the world. So we need to "preserve" and have positive thought, thats call empathy which is very rare nowdays in Indonesia. @Anak Rantua please see thing in wide angle and use your logic and common sense by using your empathy...unless you dont have it.
John Alexander | 12 May 2017 | 13:53:41 WIB
True face of Indonesia and this will be true face of the tolerance in Indonesia. Good one. Now I shall spread this to Europe and the rest of Europe to stop your brethren migrants to ever comes to our lands. What had happened to Ahok really gives us tools to make sure none of you will be here anymore. At last we're freed from your cult. Thank you Ahok and Indonesia for this gift that I thought I will never have to unite both far left and right on one pots and bring hell to all of you.
Thank you ever so much for this gift.
Anwar | 12 May 2017 | 14:32:48 WIB
well said Ira!
Donido2017@gmail.com | 13 May 2017 | 13:22:57 WIB
Can you imagine what if a moslem/christian in (maybe) india makes a comments that could be interpreted as mock at hindunese holy book?
Dont exaggerated this minority majority things.. Before Ahok, we live peacefully together.
And the majority is also being suppresed by the government. See the Tanjung Priok case, see the shooting of presumably terrorist (without true investigation or court order)
Monroe | 15 May 2017 | 10:40:07 WIB
"Before Ahok, we live peacefully together."
You must be the majority. Before Ahok, NOBODY TALKS about what us, minorities, been facing in our daily life since we're kid. You should know the difference, but maybe you not, because no one ever said to your face that you should be killed because of your religion or race.

PS: By majority, i meant kind of people who believe in treating people based on their beliefs and races. Kind of people that cannot accept that discriminations are exist, and instead of fighting it, they choose to deny it and pretend it never happened.
By minority, i meant all the people who admit the discrimination and stand against it; moslems, non-moslems, believers, non-believers.
Lomar Dasika | 15 May 2017 | 17:29:41 WIB
Hi Ma'am.

Some people just believe most people in this country is Islamophobic and Islam is being destroyed. The problem is, those are LOUD people. I am just curious, as a majority, do they have at least some confidence in their religion? When their so called Habaib saying something about Jesus, midwife, I am not feel threatened, nor so most Christian majority. If only most of you could think clearly and not being eaten by politics game using religion as its shield.

Love your above statement which replying someone's comment which said before Ahok, we live peacefully together. Well said, ma'am!

Maria Magdalena | 15 May 2017 | 21:58:34 WIB
Thank you for represents my thoughts. They say that we are reacting too much, we don't personally know Pak Ahok, or anything like that. But the truth is, it is about what it represents. How the minority will not ever get a chance in this country, no matter how much efforts and how honest you are, they still call you "kafir" or "you're woman, you don't get the same chance as man". I hope one day they understand how it feels to be minority.
jessica | 16 May 2017 | 15:03:32 WIB
Before Ahok, majority can mock minority holy book easily without being judged by law. Now, hereafter don't expect that again. If Ahok should be put in jail, the same with habib riziq.
I'm personally thankful for Ahok's bold to show the true face of so called harmony in Indonesia! There is no major issue before because minority doesn't take the insult to law not bcoz there is no intolerance
Carol | 17 May 2017 | 01:34:32 WIB
"Before Ahok, we lived peacefully'??
Were you born yesterday, Donido2017??
Have you forgotten the 1998 riot, the (almost) annual bombings of churches across Indonesia and other bombings done by the terrorists who claimed they were 'defending their religion'? The shutdown of the minorities' places of worship, persecution of Ahmadiyah and Shia people? The list is endless.

Before Ahok, people were still trying to be patient. Now, no more. The Piccolo cosplayers gotta go. Period.
SONGDAEHAN | 29 October 2017 | 11:50:38 WIB
nicely written and very brave of you for saying this.

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