News / Asia

Indonesia Teaching Tolerance With Comics

Students at Ash-Shidiqiyah Islamic boarding reading comics about Muslims teenagers dealing with stereotypes and ethical dilemmas.
Students at Ash-Shidiqiyah Islamic boarding reading comics about Muslims teenagers dealing with stereotypes and ethical dilemmas.

A new series of comic books is being introduced in Indonesia to promote diversity and tolerance. The group behind the creation of the comic book series says they are an innovative and effective way to combat the messages of intolerance from Muslim extremist groups.

Based on a true story

A newly-released comic book in Indonesia profiles the true story of how Malaysian-born Nasir Abas became disenchanted with the Islamic radical movement.  The colorful panels tell how Abas fought in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union, and went on to become a leader of the Southeast Asia terror network Jemaah Islamiyah. 

Abas says the group's decision to target innocent civilians, starting with the 2002 Bali bombing that killed more than 200 people, led to his change of heart. “So it makes me feel bad. I disagree with that kind of operation in the civilian area because it's against my knowledge. It's against the words of Jihad,” he said.

Abas now is an advocate for religious tolerance and works with authorities to rehabilitate Islamic radicals. “I am a Muslim. I have my own obligations and one of my obligations is to tell the good deeds and to prohibit the bad deeds," he said. "So I have a responsibility to stop my friends not to do the bad deeds.”

Abas says he likes how the comic book illustrates his life and his message in a way that appeals to young people.

Promoting tolerance

His is one of many comics promoting tolerance that are being released in Indonesia. At the Ash-Shidiqiyah Islamic boarding school outside of Jakarta, teenage students are being introduced to another comic series that focuses on the adventures of students and how they deal with stereotypes and misinformation.

Initial feedback from students has been positive. Mohammad Fauzi says he likes the moral message at the heart of the story.

He says the lesson is to appreciate the differences and know you cannot fight each other just because you are different.

Students reading comics about Muslims teenagers dealing with stereotypes and ethical dilemmas.
Students reading comics about Muslims teenagers dealing with stereotypes and ethical dilemmas.
Sixteen-year-old Sheila says she likes how the comic books focus on young Muslims like herself, who face ethical dilemmas.

She say comics usually only tell love stories or are about action heroes, mostly from Japan. This comic, she says, has an element of knowledge and the essence of morality inside it.

There has been a rise in violence against religious minorities in Indonesia.  While a small vocal minority of Islamic extremists are often blamed for inciting acts of intolerance, there has been concern that the moderate Muslim majority is not doing enough to win the hearts and minds of young people.

Series, tolerance comics

The international conflict resolution organization Search For Common Ground developed the series of tolerance comics. Agus Nahrowi, a teacher/trainer with the group, says comic books are a creative way for moderate Islamic voices to be heard.

“It is fair to say it is difficult to change the behavior, to change the mind.  But for a starting point to change their awareness, to boost awareness [the] campaign is very important,” Nahrowi said.

The Search for Common Ground project is supported, in part, by the U.S. State Department. The group is planning to distribute 60,000 comic books to Islamic boarding schools throughout Indonesia.

You May Like

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More