Indonesia, the largest Muslim nation in the world, has in recent times seen instances of religious intolerance and extremism, like the burning of churches and violent protests.
My trip to Jogjakarta in April 2009, however, gave me only fond memories of a friendly people of myriad religious beliefs co-existing side by side.
At the hotel we stayed in, I did my usual inspection of the room, and I was pleasantly surprised to find a copy of the Bible and the Quran side by side in a drawer.
Switching on the TV, I had my second surprise. Not only were there hundreds of channels, there were even a few that featured programmes on Buddhism. Being Buddhists, my wife and I were touched.
In Indonesia, Muslims take part in the festivities of other faiths, like lion dancing. — AP PHOTO
The next day, we were met by our tour guide, a nice-looking man called Josh Liem. We learnt over the next few days that he was Christian but married to a Muslim, and his parents were practising Buddhists.
He seemed so comfortable talking about it. He even took us to meet his father who told us that Muslims took part in the festivities of other faiths, like lion dancing, etc.
The final surprise was when we visited Borobudur. Our guide was a pretty lady, modestly clad in full Muslim attire with a tudung.
She was very friendly and knowledgeable about Buddhism. In fact, her knowledge of Buddhism put all of us in the group to shame!
She said although she was a Muslim, she had no qualms reading up on Buddhism and other religions, as the knowledge only made her a better person!
What a breath of fresh air.
To me, the experience was refreshing. It shows that Indonesians, like all people, by and large, are a very tolerant lot, and see no problem in people of different religions living side by side.
Tam Yeng Siang
Source: The Star Online
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Posted on March 13th, 2011 at 11:17 am by Bambang