The Jakarta Post
Participants of the Peace Train program take a photo at the Luhur Giri Arjuno Hindu temple in Batu, East Java. (JP/Aman Rochman)
More than 50 young adults of different backgrounds in terms of religion, ethnicity and culture gathered for the Peace Train program in Malang, East Java, from Aug. 24 to 26. Utilizing trains, the program team heads to towns to introduce people to the many religions and beliefs in Indonesia and spread tolerance across the country. The team visited Rembang and Wonosobo in Central Java earlier this year.
Khoirul Anam, the program’s organizer, said the high level of prejudice still prevailing in Indonesia could lead to discord, especially with the general elections in 2019. “That is why we invite the young generation to meet and talk, along with religious figures. Through discussions, we hope there will be a feeling of companionship,” said Khoirul.
In its sixth edition, the program was held in Malang with regard to harmony among its diverse residents. Aside from visiting and engaging in dialogue with residents of different religions and beliefs, it also held social media campaign workshops and interactive discussions among participants and religious figures.
Ana Fitra, a 21-year-old Muslim university student from Sidoarjo, East Java, said the program was appealing and gave her guidance in how to act among rampant religious tensions. “I first got to know people of other religions in junior high school, as I lived in a Muslim-dominant neighborhood. School is where I encountered different religions, through friends and lessons,” said Ana.
Peace Train participants visit the Kwan Im Tong temple in Batu, East Java. (JP/Aman Rochman)
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“In the program, I had the chance to step into a Catholic church and a Hindu temple. While I was timid at first, the pastor and the Hindu leaders welcomed we with open arms and made me feel at ease,” she added.
Ertheo Siswadi, a 21-year-old Christian from Jakarta, said the program made it possible for him to enter other religions’ places of worship. “It was a joy to meet with friends of different beliefs and to share my experience as a minority of Chinese descent,” he said. “I gained knowledge and I became informed, such as knowing what to do when facing hoaxes spread through social media. I also became more aware of terrorism and persecution, and I realized that the information I’ve so far received was lopsided.”
Khoirul said an encounter could be the way for people to shed grudges or hatred. “With conversation, we hope the young generation will cultivate tolerance and harmony in the face of diversity. They could become agents of information in their surroundings as peace ambassadors. They would know what to do should acts of intolerance, terrorism, violence or persecution happen. They are also encouraged to campaign for diversity and the unity of the nation through blogs and animated videos in social media.”
In Malang, the Peace Train campaign visited the Dhammadipa Arama Buddhist temple, the St. Albertus de Trapani Catholic church, the Jemaat Sukun Protestant church, Islamic boarding school Al Hidayah, the Luhur Giri Arjuno Hindu temple, the Kwan Im Tong Buddhist temple and people of the Sapta Darma belief. (wng)