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‘Race, Islam and Power’: A troubling tour through a pained land

Duncan Graham

The Jakarta Post

Malang, East Java  /  Sat, May 4, 2019  /  12:01 pm
‘Race, Islam and Power’: A troubling tour through a pained land

Inside view: Andreas Harsono's new book 'Race, Islam and Power' is a discomforting read for anyone who cares for the moral development of this nation. (Courtesy of Monash University Press/-)

Visiting outlying islands in this sprawling archipelago reveals an unease felt about Java, “the denominator of Indonesia”.  From Aceh to West Papua live citizens who see the nation’s largest ethnic group as oppressive colonialists. First President Sukarno used a common language, universal education and the non-denominational Pancasila philosophy to create the “unitary state”. When these did not work, persuasion turned to force. In his new book Race, Islam and Power, human rights activist Andreas Harsono explains the damage incurred on “wonderful Indonesia” as a result of violence. This was never meant to be a jolly travelogue. The author quotes West Sumatran poet Leon Agusta (1938-2015): “They’re the two most dangerous words in Indonesia: Islam and Java”, to which Andreas adds: “Muslim majority and Javanes...