Religious tensions and conflicts are current threats that overshadow the regions of Asia and Pacific. Therefore to discuss this critical topic, Asia-Pacific Peace Research Association (APRA) in cooperation with the Center for Political Studies, Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) held the first APRA Discussion Series 2018 on 6 February 2018. Dr. Sri Nuryanti as the Director of APRA in her opening statement announced this initiation would be done in a bimonthly format to review significant challenges in creating peace in the region.
The discussion focused on two countries that have been dealing with some degree of religious tension, Indonesia and Pakistan. Explaining situation in Indonesia, researcher from the Center for Humanities and Culture-LIPI, Ibnu Nadzir Daraini shared his team’s early findings on religious radicalism and intolerance in Indonesia. His paper argues that understanding about the growing rate of radicalism and intolerance is important in creating precaution policies regarding this issue. Radicalism and intolerance are also affected by historical, social and political context. The complexity is worsened by the growing sophistication of ICT (information communication technology) that tends to be the catalyst for spreading ideas on radicalism and intolerance.
While Daraini discussed the complexity of radicalism in Indonesia, the second presenter, Syeda Rumana Mehdi from Bennington College, United States, focused her presentation on the shrine culture in Pakistan. She argued that there has been a shift of meanings and roles of the Sufi shrines in Pakistan. The shrines have been used for political agenda rather than a place of peace. Moreover, a number of violence done to the Sufi shrines has been rising in the past few years. To bring back the original usage of shrines, Mehdi suggested that cooperation between the government, shrine leaders, and the community is needed.
Both Daraini and Mehdi depicted the complexity in each country when it comes to religious conflict. Indeed, there will be no single policy that will solve the entire problem. All of the stakeholders have to take responsibility and create the peaceful condition, as peace itself is the core value of religious teachings. (Khanisa)