Recently, within two weeks, and on the same Friday afternoon, two massive demonstrations had been eructating in front of a 4-star hotel named Emerald Garden. More than one hundred civilians, all of whom are members of hard-line Islamic groups, protested what they alleged of the hotel’s management having toppled down a mosque. I did not check out further whether the hotel had really compensated it with building other ones or not (some remarked that the management had done so, and I hope so), but the main thing that I detested from these protests were of the racist remarks they put on certain ethnicity, particularly those of Chinese descendants. Personally, I myself felt uncomfortable with their words.
One of my friends changed her display picture in Blackberry Messenger with the one showing how the protestors carried out anti-Chinese posters, menacing that ‘one more mosque down, a thousand Chinese homes singed’. Another poster impended the Chinese, what majority of the hard-line Muslims here acknowledge as neo-liberal capitalists, to get out of this country. She told me that she stayed home all the afternoon, while anticipating any unfortunate spate that might any time happen. Meanwhile, another one of my friends, who is used to having English tuition in a house belonging to a Korean-American woman in close proximity to the hotel, was told by the woman not to come across the location.
To admit it honestly, no matter how unnice it is that everytime we hear any racist epithets pronounced by many of the denizens, there seems to be no other way but to accept them, no matter how these words might hurt, assume you were the one who’s in the minority. I myself personally confess that in general the ethnic Chinese are capitalists, but we must realize that it has been long taught in all the economic textbooks, that not all economic systems are entirely of evil concepts, and neither of them is considerable as being ‘the ultimate, the most sacrosanct’ ones. Every economic system, even capitalism itself, does contain itself its own advantages and disadvantages. In addition, I can’t comprehend what on earth is actually underlying their subconscious minds; they have ultimate belief that all Chinese people are demons. I certainly give a credence that all religions or forms of faith in this planet, including Islam, never teaches anyone to put excessive hatred in someone only because of their racial backgrounds, or only because they are not Muslims. They never promulgate messages of waging wars against those they consider opposed to what they take into their heads in, but it is usually the men themselves who have misused all the essential values of their religions to merely garner benefits for their own sake. And that’s what I always have been convinced with.
Here is my main concern: will this spark another worse-than-1998 riot? The improbability itself is neither too low nor too high, but that does not indicate it is entirely impossible at all. Even after the tumultuous period in 1998 had slipped by more than a decade, relationship between the bulk of ethnic Chinese with so-called pribumi, or indigenous Indonesians, remains largely brittle. Social gap remains indisputably large, though not as high as that triggered during Soeharto’s rule. Even if it is cognizant that approximately 100 million Indonesians have themselves elevated into the middle-class status, it hasn’t exhibited a considerable improvement of inter-ethnic relationship in Indonesia. But the probability itself is majoringly diminished by the en masse democracy majority of us relish. Besides, unlike in the past, when most of the time people were not granted rights to monitor their own surroundings, now they grab the bigger chances to observe the societies, largely thanks to the fluorishing appearance of mass media industry, enabling more people to speak out and assess the current events taking place in societies, even though oftentimes, what they speak out is not necessarily linked to the topic discussed. Lastly, the economic situation in 1998, compared to that in 2012, is a matter of 180-degree reverse. 1998 was a catchphrase for economic malaise most of the Asian countries, when tens of millions of people were out of job, but on the contrary, 2012 refers to the momentum for Asian emerging markets. In general, most of the emerging markets do face the similar situation: unconducive environment as a consequence of high insecurity and uneasy legal protection. But, the miraculous axiom is their over-the-acme economic revival. Leastwise, the good news is that majority of Muslim Indonesians, after further survey conducted by multitudinous television stations and social institutes, oppose the existence of such hard-line organizations, albeit not all of them do have positive attitude towards ethnic Chinese.
It never takes a day to heal all the wounds imprinted for many decades. At times, the conjunction between the two communities are often at unease. I myself realize that such stigma would prevail for a long time, and flipping over it is like building a castle in the air. The hard-liners are planning to turn back, preparing what they claim ‘a larger demonstration than ever’. What will happen after, I ain’t a prophet at all.
But I know they may (probably) have to think twice, in minimum, before they really wish to scorch all the thousand Chinese houses. I envisage the ones who will fight back would be the servants and the drivers.