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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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 Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid