Radical Islam In Surakarta and Response Of The Christian Community

Title: Radical Islam In Surakarta And Response Of The Christian Community

Author: Ismail Yahya (CRCS, 2003)



This research surveys various response to make sociological sense of the diverse Muslim movements often lumped together under the label of radical Islam. The respondent of this research is the Christian community with diverse social backgrounds. The research took place in Surakarta or Solo, as it commonly known, the second largest city after Jakarta in which the radical Islam movements have grown and developed considerably. The focus of this research is the response of the Christian community in Surakarta to groups and activities of radical Islam. The objective of this research is to describe and to explore (1) reactions and perceptions of The Christian community to the emergence and activities of groups of radical Islam in Surakarta. (2) Perceptions of the Christian community to the power of radical Islam to implement their agenda. (3) Spaces for integration and conflict that involve these two religious communities in Surakarta: Islam and Christianity. (4) Future prospects of interreligious relations.


This is qualitative research. Primary data are unearthed from observation, and in depth interview. Respondents are determined by snowballing method. Meanwhile, secondary data are gained from documents, such as books, magazines, newspaper, ecncyclopedias, and official documents of the local government of Surakarta. The data are analyzed by descriptive qualitative method.


The findings of the research demonstrate that (1) there is shifting paradigm among Christians not seeing the emergence of groups of radical Islam to e directed against and hostility to Christianity, but rather as manifestation of solidarity among Muslims. However, the advance of a religious radical from certain religion can revive -among other factors- a same radical attitude even more radical from other religious community, it creates counter radical, although their characteristics are different. It can be mentioned here, if radical Islam in Surakarta, due to majority, tends to outward political orientation like sweeping of ‘evil’ places and tourists, demonstrations and mass mobilizations, while radical Christians tends to, due to minority and theological influences, inward spiritual orientation and in some cases doing religious missions and proselytism. (2) Culturally, the power of groups of radical Islam to manifest their agenda fails because there is no significant number of supporters and sympathy from abangan and priyayi. (3) Conflict and integration are inherently factors attached to humans. People of Surakarta have independently spaces for social integration, but also have conflict spaces that easily be lit. Thus, creating wide, natural, permanent, sustainable, and bottom-up spaces for integration caneliminate and abate social conflicts in society. (4) Good or bad of interreligious relations, particularly Muslim Christians relations in Indonesia depends on how far each of religious communities is, the worse to their relations. Thus, religious elites always be hoped to maintain their followers to be not radical.

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