Like in other parts of the world, also Indonesia has seen a rise in populism and narrow nationalism based largely upon religious and ethnic identity, which has proven attractive to voters. The politicization of religion is affecting inter-faith and inter-ethnic relationships, fostering intolerance, promoting a conservative moralist discours, and leading to the stigmatization and scapegoating of minority groups like Christians, Chinese and also LGBTs.

Alissa Wahid, chairwoman of the GUSDURian Network Indonesia (GNI) talked about this worrisome trends and possible responses on 18 February at SEA Junction. GNI hosts thousands of grassroots-level activists in more than 100 cities in Indonesia, working to promote interfaith dialogue and understanding, active citizenship, democracy and human rights, all values upheld by the late H. Abdurrahman Wahid – or Gus Dur, former President of Indonesia and leader of the Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest Moslem social-organization in Indonesia.

A public lecture by Alissa Wahid in English entitled “Finding Us Among I’s: Challenged Pluralism in Indonesia”. The lecture reflected on the threats posed by growing intolerance and religious populism to democracy and peace in Indonesia and ongoing efforts to safeguard the national spirit of “Unity in Diversity” in an increasingly fragmented country.

Photo by Rosalia Scoirtino, Kanyawee Seedabut