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Johannes Nugroho
Johannes Nugroho
Johannes Nugroho is a writer and political analyst from Surabaya, Indonesia

To counter rising religious conservatism in Indonesia, supercharged by social media zealots preaching discord and intolerance, peace-loving cleric Aan Anshori has a simple idea – spreading some festive cheer.

Deddy Corbuzier’s political connections are being scrutinised after he was given the titular rank of lieutenant colonel despite having no military experience.

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In 1998 hundreds of people in Indonesia, many of them of Chinese descent, were killed, and scores of women raped, in two days of violence; now ‘Koko Cici’ contests often take place, encouraging youngsters to help preserve Chinese culture.

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Alvin Lim, who says law enforcement agencies are ‘mafia dens’, is again accused of letting a couple use his address in insurance claim, for which he was acquitted in 2018. His 15-year-old daughter is speaking out to free him.

To counter societal pressure to don the hijab, efforts to reassert cultural traditions have included preservation of classical dance, jewellery making techniques.

The port city has often had a Chinatown market but discrimination against Chinese people over the centuries meant a ‘kya-kya’ was not a given; now a new night market has opened, with local government backing and halal Chinese food for the Muslim-majority population.

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Some social media users in Indonesia justified the violent knife attack by Hadi Matar on author Salman Rushdie, reasoning that “freedom shouldn’t be used to insult religion”.

Ambiguous government policy has resulted in about 75 per cent of Indonesia’s Muslim female population now wearing the hijab, while only 5 per cent did in the late 1990s – with devastating effects on the mental health of some forced to wear it.

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A popular Islamic preacher recently claimed that the 19th century anti-colonial hero wasn’t Christian, as Indonesians are taught in school, but a Muslim cleric called Ahmad Lussy. And it isn’t the only conspiracy theory doing the rounds.

The book delves into Onghokham’s struggle to come to terms with his sexuality, his advocacy of Chinese assimilation in Indonesia, and his love for Javanese culture.

The president’s lobby group Projo says it may register as a political party as talk swirls of officials mulling a constitutional change to allow third terms.

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Ahmad Syafi’i Ma’arif wanted Islam in Indonesia to co-exist with other faiths, but his nuanced ideas were misunderstood, and often rubbed ultraconservative Muslims the wrong way.

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A shock jock invited TikTok star Ragil Mahardika and his husband to talk about their married life on his YouTube show, sparking backlash from both conservatives and LGBT groups.

People are increasingly gathering to recite Islamic verses across Indonesia, sparking a debate on whether these gatherings bode well for inclusion and harmony.

Some said the shaman ritual performed by woman of the Kejawen faith presented a moral and intellectual crisis for the country, while others called it a victory for Indonesian heritage.

Ethnic Chinese used to have to Indonesian-ise their names – like when badminton star Liem Swie King became Guntur. But other ethnic groups also have a colourful history of name-giving.

When 26-year-old Surabaya native Stella Monica Hendrawan took to Instagram to complain about a bad experience she’d had at a beauty clinic, she never thought two years later she’d still be fighting criminal defamation charges brought under Indonesia’s controversial ITE internet law.

Sukarno’s daughter may have converted from Islam to Hinduism but for ordinary Indonesians to do so is to take a great risk, as Johannes Nugroho found out.

The semi-autonomous Indonesian sultanate only grants ethnic Chinese citizens up to 30-year leasehold titles, after it resurrected a Dutch colonial-era law.

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History buff Philipus Raharjo and entrepreneur Bram Luska spend their time scouring the hills of Semarang for forgotten Chinese grave sites. But not all the tombs they find are ready to give up their secrets.

Both sides have a long way to go before they reach a mutual understanding, but showing respect for each other’s culture and sovereignty would be a good start, writes Johannes Nugroho.

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A scandal involving ethnic Chinese Christian evangelist Jozeph Paul Zhang has cast the spotlight on Indonesia’s lopsided implementation of the blasphemy law, which is meant to protect other religions besides Islam.

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Kaesang Pangarep and Felicia Chew were one of the most high-profile interfaith couples in a country where relationships between Muslims and non-Muslims still raise eyebrows.

To some Indonesians, Biden represents a return to the Obama period, when the US lectured others on democracy but continued to wage wars in foreign lands.

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During the Asian Financial Crisis, the informal sector kept the economy going, but the current US$48 billion coronavirus stimulus package fails to address the most vulnerable.

Its tiny community of ethnic Chinese tend to be pro-Beijing, while the notion of secession is anathema to Jakarta. Hong Kong’s current status under ‘one country, two systems’ also benefits Indonesia economically.

The country’s pretender kingdoms have made grand claims of power and wealth, and tap into a belief that a ‘Just King’ will deliver prosperity that people have yet to enjoy.

President Widodo is focused on serving his people largely through increased welfare and economic growth. But recent student protests have shown the complexity of the Indonesian electorate’s aspirations.

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Joko Widodo is part of a new crop of Indonesian politicians elected without family political links. But amid proposed changes that would end direct presidential elections, the era of dynastic politics may not be over