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Jakarta Post

Bringing back tolerance through arts, reading

Jakarta   /   Fri, November 3 2017   /  12:40 am

Feby Indirani (Photo courtesy of Rudi Elnanda)Historian JJ Rizal said the ancient kingdom of Sriwijaya, along with the neighboring port city of Barus in North Sumatra, possessed a strong intellectual tradition, which promoted open-mindedness and, in the end, became a flourishing international trade hub. The open-minded intellectual tradition also provided space for people from different religious traditions to practice their respective faiths.The arrival of the Wahhabi stream of Islam in West Sumatra around the 18th century has, unfortunately, dealt a blow to such open-mindedness and in recent times has only grown worse. Dutch scholar Martin van Bruinessen referred to a recent phenomenon called ‘the conservative turn’ among Indonesian Muslims following the downfall of former authoritarian president Soeharto.Van Bruinessen argued that ironically, with the establishment of the democrat...