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NURHIDAYAT 1209404020 PMI A/IV Media Dakwah' takes over after the 1974 press ban The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Tue, 02/15/2000 7:07 AM Question: What is your circulation now and when was the magazine founded? Answer: Circulation has been between 25,000 to 30,000 for years. Media Dakwah was founded in 1978, and is the substitute for the Abadi daily whichwas banned in 1974 (along with 23 other publications) following the Jan.15 incident (riots following visit of Japanese PM Kakuei Tanaka). Who are y
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  NURHIDAYAT1209404020PMI A/IVMedia Dakwah' takes over after the 1974 press banThe Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Tue, 02/15/2000 7:07 AM Question: What is your circulation now and when was the magazine founded?Answer: Circulation has been between 25,000 to 30,000 for years. Media Dakwah wasfounded in 1978, and is the substitute for the Abadi daily whichwas banned in 1974 (along with23 other publications) following the Jan.15 incident (riots following visit of Japanese PM KakueiTanaka).Who are your targeted readers?Our main target is modernist Muslims including those of the Crescent and Star Family(affiliated to the Masyumi party which was forced to dissolve itself in 1960) and to theIndonesian Council of Muslim Propagation (DDII).However the magazine now also reachestraditionalist Muslims in boarding schools (pesantren). More than 50 percent of readers are inJakarta and therest are spread out across the country; many were subscribers to Abadi.Have you had responses from non-Muslims?Of course, because we raise aspirations of (Muslims), and this sometimes causes friction.But in general the response has been positive. In the Ambon case, Christians have also sentinformation and press releases from the Bishops Council of Indonesia (KWI). We also give themspace as long as the information is reliable.Regarding coverage of the Maluku tragedy, do you also voice the need for jihad if youfeel you have strong evidence for such a need?We have not done so, and there has been no need for ulema to issue a ruling on it, for the jihad has happened already in the province ... but wedon't want Muslims to remain silentspectators. (We voice) great concern that while without any warning Muslims are beingslaughtered by Christians -- based on official data from the local administration -- most Muslimscanonly holler.Admittedly we are not as vocal as other (Islamic) media because we are aware that we arepart of the public, and that according to the Koran, any reminding must be done in a gentlemanner. This was also the preference of our founder Mohammad Natsir (a former prime ministerwho died in 1993).Would you say the magazine is provocative?Our reports are based on years of documentation including those from the representativesof DDII in all the provinces. Articles on Christianization,for instance, are based on facts relatedto thousands of earlier reports. We have published Fakta dan Data: Usaha-usaha Kristenisasi diIndonesia (Facts and Data: Christianization efforts in Indonesia, 1991).  The Doulos incident (attack on a Christian complex last month in East Jakarta), forinstance, was not an isolated event. And following residents'complaints, the local administrationhad already warned in June, that theirreligious activities should stop.Only condemning Muslims for the attack misses the point.Read our (February) issue in which we state that Gus Dur (President AbdurrahmanWahid) himself can be said to be a provocateur. Because insteadof wisely pacifying (disputingparties) he sides just with Christians, likeattending their Christmas celebration and makingseveral statements which are incorrect interpretations of Islam.We have repeatedly asked (among others) why Christians persist on celebratingChristmas with Muslims? Why was a church was organized in a Betawi (native Jakarta)kampong whose residents are mostly Muslim, completewith local Islamic traditional dress wornby their followers such as the peci (cap) and kerudung (headscarf). No wonder the BetawiCouncil (Bamus) protested. What was the point of having a church in a Betawi kampong,otherthan to show that a (mostly Muslim) community had been dominated?Do you agree that religious resentment continues, as reflected through such reports,because religious leaders don't discuss the issues though they frequently meet?The issues have been discussed, but agreements have been violated. We're writing indetail again on the 1967 agreement among religious leaders whichled to a ruling that spreadingreligion to those which already have a religion was not allowed. The Christians strongly rejectedthis ... and they have continuously violated the agreement.Again, the 1989 Act on National Education had a clause initiated by the (Islamic) UnitedDevelopment faction (in the House of Representatives) saying that students in general schoolsare to be given lessons on religionin accordance with their respective faith. That's natural isn't it?But the faction of the Indonesian Democratic Party, who were mostly Christians, rejectedthis. The law was passed anyway and the faction attached a note expressing their objection ...The Muhammadiyah organization under Lukman Harun then made sure that Christianstudents in their schools such as in Kupang had Christian teachers to teach their religion. Andhow did the non-Muslims pay back thisgesture? There were no teachers on Islam in many of the(non-Muslim) schools.Do you see a difference among Catholics or Protestants regarding alleged violations of the rules?No. In the past there was hardly anything like this and it would be good to have religiousleaders with truly harmonious relations again, such as the relations (in the 1950s) between(Catholic leader) I.J. Kasimo and (Masyumi figures) Mohammad Roem and Natsir.Would you say that the press shares the blame for having to follow the ban on reportingreligious, ethnic and racial (SARA) differences and that this has contributed to the recentclashes?Sure; the subject has never been discussed thoroughly and has been constantly coveredup. We've always appealed that unfair practices (such asin spreading religions illegally) be  stopped. Media Dakwah has reported such subjects from the beginning, although we've also beencareful.You can see our past reports, we also were critical of Soeharto, even since 1981 when noother media dared mention Ali Sadikin (dissident leader of the Petisi 50 group).On East Timor, one report in the latest edition questions why only the generals known tobe good Muslims are questioned. Such a view has led to the impression that Muslims aredefending the generals. Is this related to concerns such as a conspiracy against Muslims?No, it's just a question of justice. We question why the (atrocities) in East Timor in thepast are not investigated which coincidentally involved non-Muslim generals like Gen. (ret)Benny Moerdani, and why large scale abuses against Muslims like the 1984 Tanjung Priok case(in North Jakarta) and the Banyuwangi killings since 1998 have not been investigated.How do you see the Islamic-oriented press in general?This is a long story. The ban on several media on Jan. 21 1974, a week after the Jan. 15affair, affected almost all large publications. At that time the strength of the media owned by allgroups were similar. There was the Catholic Kompas, the Protestant Sinar Harapan, IndonesiaRaya, the largest and the Islamic media like Pedoman, Abadi, and Duta Masyarakat.Kompas and Abadi then had a circulation of 90,000 each with eight pages. IndonesiaRaya had 16 pages. The root of the fall of the Islamic press was that after the ban, the new chief of the then internal security agency, Sudomo, who replaced Gen. Soemitro, only allowed twomedia which could be published -- Kompas and Sinar Harapan. Why? Just ask Sudomo.They took advantage of the empty market. The Kompas group eventually gained maybeup to 30 publication permits ... and (former minister of information) Harmoko got shares inseveral publications ... I wrote about all that a long time ago ...While Media Dakwah was set up in 1978 we only got our publication permit at the lasthour of R. Hartono's term (minister of information in 1998). That's the fate of an Islamic press ...We now face conflicts we hardly had before. Do you have any suggestions for themainstream media, who have grown into the habit against 'SARA' reporting?Honesty. Regarding Islam, it's the willingness to admit that minorities can live underIslam but that illicit practices must stop. Reporting shouldnot be too explosive, given much of the uneducated readership. But don't cover up the facts and issues which are important toMuslims.There are a number of Islamic groups now which appear to be radical through their highprofile rallies. Do you agree?Maybe such groups are vocal but merely calling for the closure of entertainment sites isnot radical. It is good but the most important issues are political. Radical is when one demandsfundamental change. (anr)
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