Dear Mr. Mohamad Ali,
My name is Franky Wibowo, lives in Jakarta, I have read your article in The Jakarta Post on Dec 24, 2002 in page 7 with title: Merry Xmas from Muslims: A Lesson in tolerance. Your article is the best writing that I have ever read about religious tolerance between Islam and Christianity, it looks like that you are overwhelming the essential meaning of tolerance.
Anyway, I myself is a Christian and also a minority ethnic in Indonesia, let say: chinese. I am glad that there are good technocrats like you, Abdulrachman Wahid, Azyumardi, Ulil, etc in muslim society, even the numbers are very few, at least compare with the total muslim population in Indonesia. It's a pity that the good technocrats and also the moderate muslim like you are not huge number and I would say that you like ministers in the king's palace who never down-earthed in the common layer. The common layer is consisting of the people who are un-educated and know very little about religious doctrine and poverty overwhelms them forever. They have been easily guided and misused by the other layer for political events and also always sacrifices minority ethnic for blaming as infidel and we must accept that treatment as a second class in Indonesian society. There is a circle of racial riots in Indonesia, maybe every 30 years or faster. Besides that, mass media accounted that so many demolished attempting occurred to the churches in 1999 and strings of church bombing in 2000.
If you were me, what should you feel? Scary for being a minority of the minorities in Indonesia? I don't know How long this unjust treatment always to be done with us. I myself have been discouraging to live any longer in Indonesia since May 1998. I think you must know the phenomenon in our society, that is many of my colleagues now are seeking for a permanent resident in many countries like: Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, United States of America and Canada. Everyone gets approval from embassy, is very happy, happier than receiving a new born baby. Do you know how much money they must pay the lawyer off for permanent resident's approval? For Singapore, they must pay off S$ 1,000.- for Canada, US$ 5,000 all for 1 family. What do you think? Is it a normal phenomenon? Maybe it is a trend, the fact is, 3 out of 5 of my colleagues have their own permanent residency (PR). PR is one of another luxury goods for executive officer in Chinese Indonesia community. I think everyone gets sick and tired. The Braindrain is coming!
It's your duty to give a wake up call for moderate muslim and give your article that you have written in The Jakarta Post to common layer in Indonesia. If your success comes, I have no longer to live in another country, will be?
Good Luck for your duty, Selamat Hari Raya Idul Fitri, Mohon Maaf Lahir dan Batin. Good luck for your study in USA
Franky, also U.S. green card holder
Assalamu'alaikum Wr Wb
Dear Brother Muhammad Ali,I read your article "Merry Xmas from Muslims: A lesson in tolerance" printed in the Jakarta Post and liked it very much.As such, I am distributing it in islaminst yahoogroups mailing list.I have been contacted by scholars such as Dr Giora Eliraz (Visiting Fellow in the Faculty of Asian Studies, Australian National University) and Dr Reuven Paz (The International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism) who are interested in "Islam in Indonesia". I'll appreciate it very much if you could add me to your list of recipients. Thank you.WassalamMoorshidee B A Kassim
Dear Mr. Ali,Merry Christmas to you and your family! I salute your rather bold but honest comments exhorting your fellowMuslim believers about what you think is a more "inclusive" attitudetowards the celebration of Christmas (The Jakarta Post, 12/26/02).People who really understands the agape love that only comes from theAlmighty could say such unselfish concern for his fellow men.Unfortunately, there are still so many who are blinded by their man-made doctrines that continuesly drive our world into perdition. I send you a news clipping that mentions exactly our concerns whichprobably is one that puts us asunder. Again, Merry Christmas! I wish you success in your endeavour. E. GarmaWheaton, IL
December 26, 2002Dear Muhamad,Well said - I read with great interest your essay and enjoyed you perspective and insight. I read the article in the December 24, 2002 edition of "The Jakarta Post".All too often the history and interweaving of Jewish, Muslim and Christian religions and philosophies are neglected. I especially enjoyed your insights into specific instances in the Koran, or other works, where relationships with Christians or Jews were mentioned.I am a Psychological Anthropologist and at the moment I am living in the village of Candidasa on the south east coast of the island of Bali. I work as a college professor in San Francisco, California.If we could encourage more persons to understand the dynamics of our shared prophets and our relating to the same common "book" I think alot of the animosity between peoples would go away.Sometimes I fear the process of moving from a religion of a "life style" philosophical, to a action based western "noun" or thing based world, makes us less understanding about the common thread of life we live as a community and gets us on a competitive bandwagon of a "movement" that we must "win".Instead of relationship we have judgment, separation and movement to chaos. Without the union of atonement (at one ment) we tend to scatter as fish in a school or birds in the sky as they are scared.If there is a book you know that especially highlights the occurrences you have given in you essay I would like to know of it. If there is not such a book I think it would be a great asset to write such a book. Give the people of the world religions some foundation to view their relationship with others in a common context. I would be happy to help facilitate such an undertaking.Terryl Kistler