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

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora