HomeMovie LibraryAbout Uslinks

|1|2|3|Next >>
Interview with Sanduk Ruit

IndonesiaCIA The World Factbook
Interview with Yenny Zannuba Wahid,
Yuli Ismartono [time 28:06]

2nd November 2007,

Yuli Ismartono:You are director of the Wahid Institute, whose message is seeding plural and peaceful Islam. Can you explain the mission and vision of the Institute?

Yenny Zannuba Wahid: The main mission of the Wahid Institute is to bring Islam to its core message of peace. So, we do all kinds of activities to enhance that message. You've heard before that Islam has been hijacked by the so called extremists, who give the impression of Islam as a religion of hatred, a religion of terrorism, a religion of violence, which is not right. So we want to bring Islam back to its core message, which is about peace.

YI: What exactly are the activities of the Institute that can convey this message?

Yenny Wahid: We do publications, training and discussions. We publish books, newsletters and we host seminars. At the moment we are trying to target younger groups, for example, high school students. So we do activities that will get their interest in spreading this message. We organize writing contests for young kids on the subject of pluralism and we have many writing about it. They are very touching.

YI: And are these contests open to kids around the country?

Yenny Wahid: Yes. I often work with pesantrens, Islamic boarding schools, because these are the agents of change in their respective local areas. So we work with the clerics, engaging them on these activities and we give them training and empowerment. We try to get them to be more independent, and have more say in directing the discourse into more democratic and more peaceful messages.

YI: What has been the result of your campaigns? Have you seen any changes?

Yenny Wahid: I was quite surprised at the vocal reception, from the clerics and the general public, mainly because of the attention that we are trying to get, for example, by using the local media to publish our stories, our activities. It's gone quite well, so far.

YI: You have been quoted as saying that religious life in Indonesia is going through a period of restless change. What do you mean by that?

Yenny Wahid: Well, we were under a condition in which for the past 30 years, religion had been under a tight lid. Then suddenly, the lid was off. One of the good things --the few good things --about the New Order era was that the government did not tolerate religious extremism. But then after the reform era began, many new factions emerged in Indonesia, including religious factions like the more hard-core Islamic groups. We suddenly had people voicing or trying to articulate their beliefs in a very intolerant way. This is what is happening. Also, you see more and more people, in this case politicians, using the language of religion for their political purposes. And these politicians use very conservative language of religion just to get ahead of their peers. It is kind of opportunistic.

YI: Last May, the Wahid Institute conducted a survey in all of the country's provinces on the subject of Islam and terrorism. What was the result?

Yenny Wahid: We thought that tolerance was a concept in Indonesia all this time, but it seems to be threatened now. It seems that we must for more active involvement in getting people to be more tolerant. For example, we surveyed people and the result was that 10 percent of the respondents said they would rather not have Muslims as their neighbors. For us this is a worrying trend, because this carries the seeds of intolerance. And we have more people saying that violence is permissible. It's in discourses. We are quite worried about that.

|1|2|3|Next >>
Personal Plofile
Yenny Zannuba Wahid Yenny Zannuba Wahid,
Moderate Muslims in Indonesia have been struggling with a credibility problem since the violent attacks by hardcore Islamic groups a few years back. It has been an uphill battle, given the resurgence of Islamic conservatism in the midst of a reform agenda that guarantees religious and political freedoms, among other rights suppressed by 30 year-rule of Suharto’s New Order government.
The Wahid Institute is one organization whose mission is to spread the true message of Islam – peace – and advocate pluralism in heterogenous Indonesia, whose 210 million population is multi-cultural and multi-ethnic. The Institute held a nationwide survey on Islam and terrorism last June, which produced interesting conclusions. First, despite incidents of religious-based violence in the past decade, most Indonesians believe that harmony among the nation’s different faiths remains strong. And while most Indonesians are aware of religious-based terror, 70.8 percent believe that it has ‘nothing to do’ with Islam as a religion. Most respondents thought the government should continue to regulate how followers of different religions interacted in society, while 63.3 percent disagree with the implementation of religious-based bylaws, including the shari’a at the regional level.
Yenny Zannuba Wahid, director of the Wahid Institute believes that more effort is needed to combat intolerance and hardcore religious elements in Indonesia.
She is the second daughter of former Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid. She obtained her bachelors degree in design and visual communication from Trisakti University in Jakarta, but upon graduation she went to work as a journalist, covering news stories from East Timor and Aceh. For her stories in post-referendum East Timor, she and her team won the Walkley Award for journalism. Yenny later obtained a master’s degree from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Upon her return from her studies in 2004, Yenny was appointed director of the then newly-founded Wahid Institute. She is also the secretary-general of the National Awakening Party (PKB).
Yuli Ismartono Yuli Ismartono, [Interviewer]
Yuli Ismartono is an executive editor at Tempo, Indonesia's foremost weekly news magazine. Ms. Ismartono, who holds degrees in political science and journalism, has been with Tempo for 15 years, mostly assigned to covering events around the Asia region and interviewing national leaders - such as former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto, former South Korean president Kim Dae Jung,Cambodia's King Sihanouk and prime minister Hun Sen, the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and other newsmakers. She is currently in charge of Tempo's English language edition and managing editor of AsiaViews, an online and hardcopy magazine featuring news and commentaries from the Asia region, of which Tempo is a member and coordinator of the media group that publishes it.
>> Page Top
Copyright © The Leaders all rights reserved.