Indonesian philanthropy must embrace the country’s diversity 

Kamala Chandrakirana

For Indonesia, ‘unity in diversity’ has necessarily been a core principle of nation building and the capacity to manage diversity a matter of survival. With a population of 250 million, Indonesia is the largest Muslim-majority country in the world. It also has more than 300 ethno-linguistic groups, and throughout its history, Indonesian Muslims have had to learn (and re-learn) how to live with their Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian, Christian and indigenous neighbours. Nor is there homogeneity even among Muslims. Not only has the full diversity of Islam historically taken root in the country, the day-to-day practice of the religion is also shaped by cultural diversity.

Today, as Indonesians witness the alarming rise of intolerance and religious radicalism in their own backyards, more and more are realizing that survival of the nation’s vision of a pluralistic existence cannot be taken for granted.

Much effort has been made on countering terrorism, analysing processes of radicalization and rehabilitating radicalized individuals and their families. But at least equal attention is needed on building resilience in communities and among the young and marginalized.

Institutions need to be strengthened or reclaimed. Root causes, not just symptoms, need to be addressed. This is a transformative agenda and philanthropy can play its part. Is Indonesia’s philanthropic community up to the challenge?

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