Inclusive universities help promote pluralism

Inclusive universities  help promote pluralism

Dozens of hijab-clad students were sitting in groups in the yard of Sanata Dharma Catholic University in Yogyakarta on Friday afternoon, seemingly in the middle of discussions about their studies.

They were joined by male and non-hijab-wearing female students in the campus located on Jl. Gejayan, Sleman, in Yogyakarta. This idyllic view stands in contrast to the claims made by hard-line Muslim group Muslim People’s Forum (FUI), which recently forced another non-Muslim university Duta Wacana Christian University (UKDW) to take down billboards depicting a female student wearing a hijab. The group claimed the billboards were an insult to Islam.

Sanata’s billboards also feature a student wearing a hijab together with other students, a seemingly accurate depiction of what was seen in the campus’ yard on Friday.

“There is no Christianization here. The campus even provides a prayer room,” Ardiya D. Nurahma, a Sanata Dharma English major student.

The campus has declared that it will refuse to bow down to pressure to take down the billboards, as UKDW has done in compliance with the FUI’s demands.

Of the total 3,800 students at UKDW, 266 are Muslim, according to the university’s data. The university said it had decided to comply with the demands to prevent disruptions to campus’ activities.

The billboards depicting a hijab-clad student was not a violation of religious laws, but instead aimed to promote inclusivity and pluralism, principles regarded highly in Islam, Yogyakarta’s Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University rector Yudian Wahyudi said on Friday. Inclusive educational institutions are pivotal to creating a society that supports pluralism, he added.

“They want to show that it is an open campus that upholds diversities,” he told The Jakarta Post, adding that the advertisement should not be interpreted negatively based on fears of Christianization.

Accepting students from different faiths has been a long-standing practice at Islam-based universities such as Yogyakarta Muhammadiyah University, the university’s rector Bambang Cipto said.

The advertisement did not constitute an ethical violation either, advertising lecturer at the Gadjah Mada University Pulung S. Perbawani said, adding that the campuses wanted to promote their embrace of multiculturalism.

The protests over the campus billboards has been the latest incident that indicates a rising level of intolerance and aggressive tactics from hard-line Muslims toward people of other faiths. The incident took place a day after two Islamic groups — Ahlu Sunnah Defenders (PAS) and Dewan Da’wah Islamiyah Indonesia (DDII) — rallied against a religious service led by Rev. Stephen Tong at a popular auditorium, the Sasana Budaya Ganesha (Sabuga) Building, in Bandung on Tuesday. The groups claim the service should not have been held in a public
facility.

The incidents follow widespread religious tension centering on the blasphemy case against Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama.

Bandung Mayor Ridwan Kamil said on Friday that groups wishing to hold religious events in his city did not need a permit but only inform local police, countering claims from PAS members that the Christmas service was illegal.

“If there are parties saying a religious service requires a permit, it is not true. They do not need any permit, no matter what and when,” he said.

He made the statement after a meeting with representatives of state institutions and religious organizations on Thursday evening. Ridwan said that during the meeting it was agreed that the use of public buildings for religious services was allowed as long as they were non-routine events.

“What we strictly prohibit civil groups from doing is entering houses of worship of other religions. If that happens, they can be charged with violating articles 175 and 176 of the Criminal Code [KUHP]. But even in the worst situation, it is only the police that have the authority to take action against such a violation,” he said.

  • Courtesy Jakarta Post
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