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Yoga day: In Indonesia, a comic book to commemorate cultural links

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Jakarta: To commemorate the International Yoga Day, the Indian embassy in Indonesia has released a special publication, a comic book focusing on the historic India-Indonesia relationship.

“Travels through Time”, is a part of the ongoing “Sahabat India: Festival of India in Indonesia” which has revived and revitalised India’s cultural links with Indonesia at large.

The comic book begins with when Indonesia and India came into contact and goes through different periods of historic, social and cultural interaction. The journey of the book goes through India’s Look East Policy turning to Act East, the recent intensive engagement of India and Indonesia and ends with the elections of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joko Widodo in 2014.

The comic book will be distributed to libraries, schools, universities and among children and public libraries in a unique public diplomacy effort.Yoga_representational_Thinkstock_650

The publication was released by an array of Indonesian celebrities including actors Nicholas Saputra, Agus Ringgo, Anjasmara, Ikat fashion designer Didiet Maulana, novelist, screenplay writer Asma Nadia, celebrity chef Farah Quinn, film director Nia Dinata.

From India, the cast of the “Mahabharata” television serial were also present.

The Indonesian version of the comic book is entitled, “Perjalanan Menelusuri Sejarah: Cerita Indonesia Dan India”.

It is an initiative of Indian Ambassador Gurjit Singh and the former head of the Indonesian Archives, Tamalia Alisjahbana, who worked with Indonesian historian, Agus Aris Munandar, to compile and prepare the text.

“A lot of effort went into this” said Tamalia Alisjahbana, who is extremely fond of India.

“Ambassador Singh and I both felt the need for such a publication to bring to the mind of the young Indonesians the history of our engagement.”

Ambassador Gurjit Singh, who took the initiative of organising the event, said that the story of India has been told in many ways through the Festival of India and social media has been widely used.

However, there are a large number of schools and public libraries where people want to know about India’s links with Indonesia in their own language. Thus, we decided to work with “Amar Chitra Katha”, well known publishers of Indian historical comics to create a special edition which would be physically available to schools and libraries across Indonesia.

A dedicated team from Amar Chitra Katha was set up to work with the embassy with the ambassador personally supervising this initiative. (IANS)

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Calls for Quran Test of Indonesian Presidential Candidates Faces Criticism By Muslim Scholars

The invitation that was sent to both presidential candidates asks them to read Al-Fatiha (the first surah in Quran) and then another surah that will be determined by the organizer.

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Indonesia, quran
A man reads the Koran at Istiqlal mosque in Jakarta, July 24, 2012. VOA

A recent call for a Quran test in Aceh province for Indonesian presidential candidates is facing strong criticism by Muslim scholars, who say the move would undermine racial unity.

On Saturday, the Council of Preachers Association in Aceh sent an invitation to both presidential candidates in the April 2019 vote — incumbent Joko Widodo and opponent Prabowo Subianto — to attend a Quran recitation test in the capital of Aceh province on January 15. The chairman of that council, Marsyuddin Ishak, told VOA that the test is important to reveal the true image of the presidential candidates as well as continue a tradition in their province, the only one that implement the Sharia-law in Indonesia.

Quran recitation is a requirement to compete in local elections in Aceh.

” Our leaders in here — the governor, the member of parliament and other councils — are all tested to read the Quran. The next president will be our leader too, so we want to know their capability in reading Quran as our local leaders in here,” said Marsyuddin.

Indonesia, quran
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, center right, walks and his running mate Ma’ruf Amin during a ceremony marking the kick off of the campaign period for next year’s election in Jakarta, Sept. 23, 2018. VOA

However, former president of Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University in Jakarta, Dr. Komaruddin Hidayat, told VOA that the test is unnecessary and exaggerates the importance of religion.

“I really regret it. Our lives must be based on a constitution. Understanding and learning more about our religion is important, but it doesn’t mean that we fail our live if we can’t read the Quran,” he said.

“Religion never became the standard to graduate from school or to get a job. I give you another example : if we want to test an airplane pilot, we test his knowledge on the airplane not about his ability to read the Quran. The same case with the presidential election.”

He adds that it’s better if any test was based on the candidates’ sensitivity to people of different religions and how will he fight for the rights of minorities.

Dr. Rumadi Ahmad, an official with the country’s largest Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama, told VOA that the Quran recitation test is a clear example of politicizing religion.

Quran
A worker looks checks printing paper for the Koran near the Sunan Ampel mosque in Surabaya, Indonesia East Java province, July 27, 2011. VOA

“This is an exaggeration of religion in politics. We don’t have to use the capability to read the Quran as an issue in the coming election. This is a clear tendency to politicize religion. It’s dangerous and will arouse hatred among people of various races and religions in the country,” said Rumadi.

Also Read: Earthquake Measuring 6.1 Strikes Indonesia

The invitation that was sent to both presidential candidates asks them to read Al-Fatiha (the first surah in Quran) and then another surah that will be determined by the organizer.

According to Marsyuddin Ishak, Joko Widodo’s team has replied to the invitation by saying that they will consider it and discuss it further. Prabowo has not replied. (VOA)