Monday, April 25, 2016

Mereka Adalah Orang-orang Indonesia yang Terusir


Mari kita bertemu dengan Naisah, seorang Ibu muda yang tengah mengandung tujuh bulan. Dalam beberapa hari belakangan ini dia bersama beberapa orang lainnya terpaksa harus menjadi ‘manusia perahu’ sebab rumah yang mereka huni sudah luluh lantah dihancurkan oleh bulldozer kiriman gubernur Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama alias Ahok.[1] Tanpa solusi apapun yang ditawarkan oleh sang gubernur, hidup mereka kini terombang ambing. Tak tentu arah persis seperti perahu tempat mereka tinggal yang tidak tahu mesti berlayar kemana.

Penggusuran paksa sepertinya memang telah menjadi makanan sehari-hari masyarakat miskin di ibu kota negara Indonesia. Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Jakarta, misalnya, pada tahun 2015 melaporkan, terdapat lebih kurang 3200 warga yang menjadi korban penggusuran paksa dalam kurun waktu 2007 – 2012. Angka ini menjadi rekor tertinggi sepanjang berdirinya kota Jakarta.[2] Bukan itu saja, LBH juga mencatat bahwa, untuk tahun 2015 saja ada sekitar 3433 Kepala Keluarga (KK) dan 433 unit usaha yang mesti angkat angkat kaki dari tanah yang telah mereka tempati selama berpuluh-puluh tahun.[3] Perlu dicatat, angka besar ini tidak dijumpai di masa pemerintahan Ahok saja. Gubernur sebelumnya, semisal Sutiyoso juga rajin dalam menendang warganya keluar dari rumah-rumah mereka. Sudah puluhan ribu warga Jakarta mesti merelakan tempat tinggal mereka hancur lebur menjadi puing-puing sepanjang Sembilan tahun masa jabatan mantan tokoh militer Indonesia itu.[4]

Mirisnya, bukan Jakarta saja yang punya cerita kelam berjudul penggusuran paksa ini. Daerah lain juga memiliki kebijakan serupa. Pemerintah Kota Makassar pada tahun 2004 menggusur paksa rumah rumah nelayan di Pantai Laguna.[5] Pada tahun 2009 giliran Pemerintah Kota Surabaya yang melakukan kebijakan serupa terhadap warga yang tinggal di kawasan Stren Kali Jagir. Penggusuran paksa ini berdampak pada terusirnya 380 Kepala Keluarga.[6] Bila didata semuanya, daftar ini akan terus berlanjut sebab tidak semua kisah penggusuran mendapat laporan wartawan atau aktifis mengingat luasnya wilayah Indonesia dan seringnya penggusuran paksa terjadi.

Pihak yang menggusur, dalam hal ini pemerintah, seringkali berdalih bahwa penggusuran bertujuan untuk ‘kepentingan umum’ seperti mengatasi banjir atau untuk Ruang Terbuka Hijau (RTH). Jadi, pengusiran mereka dari rumah yang mereka tempati selama bertahun-tahun sejatinya demi kebaikan bersama juga alias masyarakat banyak. Akan tetapi, sayangnya alibi seperti ini terkesan tidak adil. Jika memang penggusuran harus dilakukan demi mengatasi banjir yang sering melanda kota Jakarta, anehnya mengapa rumah-rumah warga saja yang digusur. Apartemen, hotel, mall, dan pemukiman mewah yang berdiri di daerah resapan air dan mengonversi lahan menjadi tempat bisnis cenderung dibiarkan.[7] Data berbicara. Lebih dari 3000 hektar RTH di Jakarta dialihfungsikan menjadi kawasan komersial dan permukiman elit. Disinilah terlihat sisi kemunafikan alasan ‘kepentingan umum’ pemerintah provinsi Jakarta, sebab pada kenyataannya sekarang 5 kawasan dari lahan itu menjelma menjadi hutan beton berisikan hotel, mall, dan rumah orang-orang berduit.[8]

Pemerintah DKI Jakarta dan pihak swasta rupanya selama ini berkolaborasi dalam menyingkirkan kaum miskin dengan membuka jalan selebar-lebarnya kepada pihak kedua untuk menguasai lahan sebanyak-banyaknya. Sampai-sampai ratusan hektar lahan pemerintah bernilai trilyunan rupiah yang hingga kini tidak terdata, telah banyak yang berpindah tangan ke pihak swasta secara diam-diam. Imbas dari semua ini adalah timpangnya jumlah penguasaan tanah antara orang miskin dan pihak swasta di ibu kota.[9] PRP Indonesia bahkan melaporkan bahwa pihak swasta menguasai 80-90% tanah di Jakarta.[10]

Penggusuran paksa tentu saja melanggar banyak aturan baik aturan yang dibuat oleh pemerintah Indonesia sendiri maupun peraturan Internasional. UUD 1945 pasal 38 H ayat 1 menyebutkan bahwa setiap orang berhak hidup sejahtera lahir batin dan bertempat tinggal. Undang-Undang No. 4 Tahun 1992 tentang Perumahan dan Permukiman juga berbunyi demikian, bahwa setiap warga negara memiliki hak untuk menempati, menikmati, dan memiliki rumah yang layak huni. [11] PBB bahkan sampai dengan tegas menyatakan bahwa penggusuran paksa adalah illegal dan melanggar hak asasi manusia. Article 25 PBB menyebutkan bahwa setiap orang  berhak memiliki hak dasar hidup seperti kesehatan, pakaian, dan tempat tinggal. The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (CESCR) menegaskan bahwa negara harus menahan diri untuk menggusur paksa warganya apalagi sampai membuat mereka terlantar.[12]

Penggusuran paksa juga seringkali diwarnai kekerasan dengan melibatkan aparat keamanan baik sipil (Polisi Pamong Praja dan aparat POLRI) maupun TNI. Tentu saja ini sebuah bentuk pelanggaran sebab tugas utama aparat diatas adalah untuk melindungi dan mengayomi rakyat bukan memerangi mereka. Parahnya lagi, setelah membumihanguskan tempat tinggal mereka, pemerintah acapkali tidak memberikan solusi. Atau, solusi yang diberikan masih belum proporsional seperti lamanya relokasi warga ke rumah susun, kualitas rumah susun yang tidak layak huni, dan nilai uang ganti rugi yang tidak sesuai dengan kerugian yang ditanggung warga miskin akibat penggusuran.[13]

Selain itu, bercerainya warga dengan lingkungan tempat tinggal mereka juga berdampak buruk bagi kondisi social ekonomi mereka. Mereka tidak lagi memiliki komunitas yang bersatu sebab semuanya sudah tercerai berai. Mata pencaharian pun tidak jarang ikut raib karena biasanya pemukiman warga miskin dekat dengan tempat mereka bekerja seperti laut bagi nelayan dan pasar bagi pedagang kecil. Terakhir, pendidikan anak-anak yang ikut tergusur juga terganggu sebab mereka tidak memiliki tempat yang layak lagi untuk mengulangi pelajaran. Kondisi orang tua anak-anak tersebut yang serba tidak menentu hingga kadang mesti pergi jauh entah kemana, sangat berpotensi  untuk membuat anak-anak mereka putus sekolah. Teranglah sudah penggusuran paksa, bagi orang tua dan anak-anak, bukan sekedar menyisakan trauma mendalam tetapi juga efek yang serius.

Naisah beserta yang lainnya hingga kini masih mengapung di rumah perahu. Mereka tidak tahu untuk berapa lama harus tinggal disana. Yang pasti, kini mereka tidak memiliki rumah lagi untuk bernaung serta tanah untuk berpijak. Semuanya sudah hancur lebur oleh alat berat pemerintah mereka. Mereka adalah orang-orang Indonesia yang terusir.






[3] Ibid, p. 17-18.

Forced Evictions in Jakarta: More Than Losing Homes

Let's meet Naisah, a young mother who is seven months' pregnant. In recent days, she and several others have become 'boat people' following the demolition of their homes by bulldozers sent by Jakarta's Governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama; known colloquially as Ahok. With no solution being proposed by the government, their lives are now teetering, just like the boat on which they live; drifting aimlessly without direction.
Forced evictions have become a common reality for the residents of Indonesia's capital city. According to the 2015 report published by the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute, approximately 3200 people were subjected to forced evictions between 2007 and 2012; the highest number since the founding of the city. In addition, it was reportedthat, in 2015 alone, about 3433 families and 433 businesses were forced to uproot themselves from the lands they have occupied for many decades. It is important to note that these cases are not only happening under the current government. Previous governors, such as Sutiyoso, were also diligent in ejecting residents from their homes without offering any alternative. It is estimated that around 10,000 people in Jakarta saw their homes reduced to rubble during the nine-year tenure of this former military figure.
What is worse is that it is not only Jakarta that has a dark history of forced evictions. Many other regions in the country have similar policies. The government of Makassar, for instance, evicted fishermen in Laguna Beach in 2004. In 2009, Surabaya's municipality also carried out a similar policy towards the inhabitants of Stren Kali Jagir, resulting in the expulsion of 380 households. If all cases of forced evictions are recorded, the figure will obviously be higher. But unfortunately, not all stories receive media attention, given the vastness of the country and the frequency of evictions.
The perpetrator, in this case the government, often argues that evictions are carried out in the 'public interest,' to avoid flooding or to create more green spaces. Thus, they argue, expelling people from the houses they have lived in for many years is for the benefit of society in general. However, this reason seems unfair. If evictions are executed in order to prevent flooding that often hits the city of Jakarta, why is it that only residential homes, mainly poor ones, are being evicted? Apartments, hotels, shopping malls, and luxurious residential places that are clearly built in water catchment areas tend to be omitted. It is noteworthy that more than 3000 hectares of green open spaces in Jakarta have been converted into commercial and residential elite neighborhoods. Hence, it is evident that the government is demonstrating its hypocrisy by citing 'public interest' as the grounds of its actions; in reality, many vacant lands have been transformed into hotels, shopping districts and elite residential complex.
Apparently, the Jakarta government has collaborated with the private sector in getting rid of the poor by opening a wide door for the latter to control as much as land as possible. This is to the extent that hundreds of hectares of unrecorded government land worth trillions of rupiah have passed secretly into the hands of private parties. The major implication of this is the gap in the amount of land ownership among the poor and the private sector. PRP Indonesia even reported that private sector controls 80 to 90 percent of lands in Jakarta.
Undeniably, forced evictions violate many legal rules; whether legislations made by the Indonesian government or international laws. The 1945 Constitution of Republic of Indonesia states that every person has the right to a prosperous life, both physically and mentally. Law Number 4 of 1992 on Housing and Settlement also states that each citizen has the full right to occupy, enjoy and own habitable houses. Moreover, the United Nations states categorically that forced evictions are illegal and violate basic human rights. It is also written in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that everyone is entitled to adequate rights of living, including health, clothing and shelter. Meanwhile, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) asserts that the State should refrain from forcibly evicting residents, let alone leaving them stranded.
Unfortunately, forced evictions are often marred by violence involving both police and military force. This is, of course, a form of violation of the main task of these security services; that is, to safeguard and protect citizens. Worst of all, the government often does not provide any alternative after forcibly displacing people from their homes. Simultaneously, the solutions provided are still proportionate; for example, the relocation to government flats, which takes a long time, the uninhabitable quality of the flats, and the value of compensation that often does not correspond to the losses incurred.
The separation of residents from their neighborhoods also has negative implications for their socio-economic conditions. These people no longer have a strong, united community. The source of livelihood also vanishes because poor residential areas are often situated close to their workplaces; such as the sea for fishermen and markets for traders. Finally, the education of displaced children is affected as it is difficult to find new schools. The situation faced by parents of these children is completely erratic; moving around without a stable place to live, has the potential to result in their children dropping out school. It is more than evident now that forced evictions will leave not only deep trauma, but also have serious implications for everyone.
These individuals are in need of serious, genuine and, more importantly, humane efforts by both local and central governments to end their ongoing misery. It is difficult to see when all of this will end, but one thing must be made clear: if we let this phenomenon continue, all of us will eventually have to pay the heavy price.
As this article is published, Nasiah, along with many others, are still drifting in the boat house. They have no idea for how long they should stay there. What is certain is that they have now lost not only the places they usually call home, but also long-held memories and the future to which they have been looking forward.

This piece is co-authored with Muhammad Beni Saputra, a postgraduate student at the University of Manchester.
This piece is also published by Huffington Post at: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/muhammad-zulfikar-rakhmat/forced-evictions-jakarta_b_9758944.html

English Language: A Persistent Issue in Indonesia

Whenever she is called, Celina says frequently, 'Pardon', to clarify our utterances. With her authentic smile and shy character, she then said; 'I am sorry, my English is not good'. Celina arrived in Manchester with obsequious English skills and a simple dream; to work as a cleaner in a restaurant.
As Indonesians, our recent conversation with Celina left us with mixed feeling. On the one hand, we are excited because the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) was enacted few months ago and is expected to bring a new wind of change to the region. On the other hand, however, we have deep anxiety regarding the AEC. Yes, whether we like it or not, whether we are ready or not, we have entered a new era in our region with the establishment of the AEC. As the community is a cross-country community, the English language is expected to play a central role in the progression of the ASEAN Economic Community. Moreover, in order to reap the full benefits of the initiative, Indonesia is undeniably in need of re-evaluating the English proficiency of its population.
In relation to English fluency, based on the English Proficiency Index of an international English language institution, English First, Indonesia remainspositioned below its neighbouring countries; namely, Singapore, Malaysia, and even Vietnam. Even though, in this data, the English proficiency of Indonesians falls within the category of 'moderate' or intermediate, the Economist argues that the data by English First is obtained through the Internet. This means that only those who have an internet connection are sampled. It is probable that the results would be significantly lower if the test also involved those without an internet connection, such as those living in rural areas.
The lack and the uneven distribution of English proficiency in Indonesia, especially between major cities and rural or remote areas, have several vital implications for the country.
It is impossible to ignore the fact that English is the lingua franca in the international trade. Given the increasingly open state of the world, especially in the context of AEC, the role of English is certainly crucial for Indonesia to strengthen trade relations with its regional neighbours. Moreover, it is now quite possible that, for instance, businessmen from Thailand are interested in pursuing business with the average people in the depths of Papua. In this regard, it is clear that the English language is instrumental in bridging the needs of regional countries to pursue trade that is beneficial to all parties.
Simultaneously, the situation will undoubtedly hinder the development of rural areas. Research conducted by the Harvard Business Review reveals a direct correlation between the good English language skills of a population with the ability of the economy and the index of a country's human development. In other words, the lower the English ability, the lower the rate of development of a region.
Furthermore, the people will face difficulties in internationalising themselves or participating in global opportunities. In reality, there are a handful of programmes with which the Indonesians, especially the youth, could participate in the international arena. In addition to youth exchange initiatives introduced by the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Indonesia, where the selection process is handled by Purna Caraka Muda Indonesia (PCMI), perhaps the most prominent example is theLPDP (Lembaga Pengelola Dana Pendidikan) provided by the Ministry of Finance. This scholarship presents a wide opportunity for Indonesians to pursue higher studies, mainly masters and PhDs, both at home and overseas. Anyone can apply and seize opportunities to pursue education at the world's leading universities, including Cambridge, Oxford and Harvard.
Nevertheless, very few recipients come from remote areas of Indonesia, such as Jambi, Papua, or Kalimantan. Indeed, the majority are from major cities, such as Jakarta, Bandung, or Yogyakarta, where information and English language training are easily accessible. Moreover, almost none are graduates of small colleges or universities in districts or regencies. It cannot be denied that the fundamental reason behind this phenomenon is the limited English language proficiency. There are many young talented individuals or experts in major subjects, such as Mathematics, Physics and Medicine, from these small or far-away regions of Indonesia who have missed the opportunity to pursue further education at top-notch institutions in the United States or Europe. This is simply because they lack access to English learning centres and, thus, have limited English proficiency.
While it is true that LPDP already has an initiative, known as Affirmation Scholarship, for those who live in underdeveloped parts of the country, the initiative has not been able to cover all the less developed regions. The data on underdeveloped regions provided by Bappenas, used by LPDP as a reference, is defined merely by geographical location. Consequently, there are many underdeveloped regions that should be included.
Looking at this situation, it is hence important for both the local and central government to take seriously the issue of English language. Throughout this time, the local government has primarily been 'hands-off' and has allowed the people struggle alone. These individuals, for instance, establish small study circles to learn English without any formal support. The situation is exacerbated by the lack of availability of qualified English teachers for public schools in rural or district areas. It can no longer be ignored that the government should take concrete steps to solve this long-held dilemma; for example, developing nationwide English language institutions for free, including in districts or even sub-districts.
Similarly, scholarship providers such as LPDP should have an additional indicator to categorise which regions should be considered as underdeveloped by using the Human Development Index (HDI). This is important because there are areas that have lower HDI than those listed by Bappenas, but are not listed as eligible to receive Affirmation Scholarship by LPDP. For example, the HDI of Tanjung Jabung Timur regency in Jambi for 2014 was 59.88, while the HDI of Solok Selatan for the same year was 66.29. From this data, it is clear that the first regency should be prioritised as an eligible recipient of the Affirmation Scholarship, even though both are equally in need of extra attention from the government.
It should be realised by now that providing scholarships to those who live in less developed areas of Indonesia is important. These individuals could become agents of change to correct not only the imbalances in the development of their regions, but also to contribute to the country's overall development.
One of the points of cooperation outlined in the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint is the free flow of skilled labour. This is a strong warning for the Indonesian government to provide access for people to learn the language used to communicate and compete in regional or even international stages. If not, it can be expected that foreign workers, such as Celina, will increasingly flock into the country and slowly uproot the local workforce.

This piece is co-authored with Muhammad Beni Saputra, a postgraduate student at the University of Manchester. He taught English for several years in rural areas of Jambi, West Sumatra.
This piece is also published by Huffington Post at: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/muhammad-zulfikar-rakhmat/english-language-a-persis_b_9718692.html 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Kultúrne Centrum Córdoba yang Dilupakan



Mentari pagi itu masih bersembunyi malu di sudut timur Bratislava, ibu kotanya Slovakia. Berjalan menembus kabut pagi ditengah kepungan barisan toko, restoran, dan kerumunan manusia yang lalu lalang, kami menuntun langkah penuh semangat demi mencari sumber nafas Islam yang telah terlupakan di kota bekas pusat kerajaan Hungaria ini. Bukan perkara mudah memang. Setidaknya kami menghabiskan waktu kurang lebih dua jam menelusuri jalan Obchodná.

GPS yang ada di Smartphone menunjukkan bahwa masjid yang kami cari terletak di belakang sebuah bangunan bernama Prima Banka. Namun tidak selamanya teknologi bisa diandalkan. Buktinya setelah kami kesana tidak ada bangunan apapun di belakang gedung bertingkat itu. Kosong Melompong. Akhirnya kami putuskan untuk bertanya kepada para pejalan kaki yang ada di sepanjang Obchodná Street. Tapi lagi-lagi hasilnya meleset. Tak ada dari mereka yang menunjukkan tanda-tanda bahwa ada masjid di sekitar kota. "Is there a mosque here? I don't think so" Tanya seorang pria paruh baya penuh heran kepada temannya. Kami menyimpulkan agaknya pertanyaan seputar masjid memang masih tergolong pertanyaan aneh di Bratislava. Tapi kami tak patah arang. Setelah dipikir lagi, boleh jadi ketidaksuksesan kami dipengaruhi oleh bahasa. Oleh karena itu kami coba mengganti kata 'mosque' dengan bahasa setempat untuk masjid, 'Mešita'. Namun hasilnya tetap nihil.

Tanpa mengenal putus asa kami tetap gigih mencari. Kami yakin sekali bahwa, umat islam bisa ditemukan di belahan bumi manapun tak terkecuali Bratislava. Logikanya adalah muslim dimanapun mereka memerlukan tempat sholat. Jadi masjid sangat mungkin ada di kota ini meskipun belum berhasil kami temukan. Tengah asyik berjalan kami menjumpai sebuah pasar tradisional yang sangat mirip dengan pasar kaki lima di Indonesia. Sejenak kami tidak percaya dengan apa yang kami lihat, sekumpulan orang menjual pakaian di gang kecil tepi jalan. Rasa terkejut kami barangkali dikarenakan telah lama terserang sejenis penyakit 'inferiority syndrome' terhadap negara barat. Selalu mengaitkan segala macam kemajuan kepada negara barat.

Kami memberanikan diri untuk bertanya kepada para pedagang disitu mengenai pencarian kami. Semua menggeleng kecuali seorang pria tua yang juga berprofesi sebagai pedagang disitu. Mendengar penjelasan hajat kami dia tersenyum kemudian mengarahkan telunjuknya ke sebentuk gerbang yang berada tepat di belakang kami berdiri di seberang jalan. Di atap bangunan itu terpampang jelas tulisan ‘BAR-ON’! Terang saja kami tidak percaya. Adalah amat sangat mustahil jika bangunan itu tempat ibadahnya orang islam. Sudah menjadi consensus kalau bar yang notabene tempat orang-orang menenggak minuman keras secara prinsipil bertentangan dengan masjid yang tak lain sebuah rumah ibadah. Lagipula ciri identik sebuah masjid seperti kubah dan menara saja tidak kelihatan. Kami berdua sepakat kakek tua ini ngawur.

Tapi kami penasaran juga. Barangkali kakek tua itu tidak bermaksud untuk memperolok kami. Kami beranjak dari barisan kedai itu, menyeberangi jalan, kemudian menyambangi bangunan  yang ditunjuknya tadi. Kaget bukan kepalang kami berdua! Pintu gerbang bangunan itu bertuliskan Kultúrne Centrum Córdoba atau Pusat Islam Cordoba. Di kiri kanannya gerbang ini diapit oleh toko buku dan toko cindera mata.



Tanpa berpikir dua kali kami memasuki gerbang itu. Di dalamnya terdapat lorong panjang dengan beberapa pintu di kedua sisinya yang mana salah satu pintu tersebut berlabel Spirit of Wine VINOTELA-VINAREN. Diujung lorong mural seorang gadis bertato menyambut kedatangan kami. Disebelah gadis itu tertulis TATTOO & PIERCING. Keraguan kami kembali memuncak. Tapi tidak bisa dipungkiri kalau kami masih berharap tulisan di gerbang tadi bukan sebuah iklan yang salah tarok. Kami bertanya kepada seorang pria muda yang berdiri di pintu toko arak itu. “Pintu masuknya di sebelah sana” jawabnya seadanya.




Masjidnya sama sekali tidak terlihat sebagaimana lazimnya sebuah masjid. Lebih tepatnya hanya bangunan biasa mirip ruang kelas sekolah. Ukurannya pun tidak begitu besar. Paling cuma bisa menampung sekitar 30 atau 40 jamaah. Di dalam masjid itu terdapat mimbar kayu untuk khutbah Jumat . Di dindingnya tergantung kain hitam bertuliskan Asmaul Husna. Lantainya dialasi dengan karpet merah. Sebuah rak yang penuh dengan Al Quran berdiri kokoh di sudut kanan masjid.

Berdasarkan info yang didapat dari pria yang kami temui di toko arak tadi, usia masjid itu sudah relatif tua. Hanya saja, imbuhnya, pintunya seringkali tertutup. Tapi dia mengakui bahwa segerombolan orang selalu memenuhi masjid itu setiap hari Jumat.

Kami belum puas dengan jawaban pria itu. Dengan smartphone yang ada di genggaman kami coba menggali lagi informasi lebih dalam mengenai masjid ini. Ternyata ada. Sebuah situs koran local bernama The Slovak Spectator pernah mengulas masjid ini dan menuliskan bahwa bangunan yang posisinya terpencil ini tidak hanya berfungsi sebagai tempat umat islam sholat berjamaah, tetapi juga menjadi basis pengajaran ajaran islam dan sesekali sebagai tempat pameran kebudayaan islam.

Meskipun seolah luput dari perhatian banyak pihak, Islam memiliki sejarah yang cukup panjang di Slovakia. Begitu juga dengan orang islam yang telah lama menetap disana. Beberapa sumber menyebutkan, pada abad ke 17 bagian kecil dari Slovakia pernah berada dibawah pemerintahan Turki Utsmani sebelum akhirnya Turki menelan kekalahan dalam perang Vienna.

Tidak mudah untuk memperkirakan secara akurat berapa jumlah penduduk muslim di Slovakia. Menurut data yang dikeluarkan oleh Pew Research Center pada tahun 2010, ada sekiranya 11.000 orang islam disini atau sekitar 0.2 persen dari total keseluruhan penduduk Slovakia. Besar kemungkinan angka ini bertambah bila diadakan pendataan ulang sekarang. Orang-orang Islam yang ada di Slovakia merupakan gabungan dari masyarakat local dan pendatang. Untuk yang terakhir, mereka dulunya datang kesini saat Ceko dan Slovakia masih tergabung ke dalam satu negara yaitu Czechoslovakia. Mereka datang sebagai pelajar dan menetap disini hingga sekarang.

Meskipun sejarahnya cukup panjang dan penganutnya cukup banyak, hingga saat ini Islam tidak terdaftar sebagai agama yang diakui di Slovakia. Pemerintah Slovakia juga berulangkali menolak permohonan Kultúrne Centrum Córdoba agar diberikan izin resmi. Cukup beralasan bila sampai detik ini Slovakia adalah satu-satunya negara Eropa yang tidak memiliki masjid resmi. Miris!

Pandangan masyarakat Slovakia secara umum terhadap masyarakat muslim juga masih negatif. Berdasarkan hasil bincang-bincang kami dengan penduduk sekitar, alasan utamanya adalah masih kurangnya pengetahuan terhadap Islam dan pemberitaan di banyak media yang seringkali menyudutkan agama yang dibawa oleh Nabi Muhammad ini.

Keberadaan Kultúrne Centrum Córdoba di jantung kota Bratislava merupakan sebuah saksi sejarah betapa umat Islam telah bermukim di Slovakia dalam jangka waktu yang tidak sebentar. Bukan itu saja, kedepannya Kultúrne Centrum Córdoba juga akan tetap memegang peranan penting dalam meruntuhkan pendapat-pendapat miring tentang Islam yang masih beredar bebas di Slovakia melalui aktifitas keagamaan dan edukasi yang diadakan oleh pusat kebuadayaan Islam ini.

Bratislavský hrad yang berdiri angkuh di puncak bukit sana terlihat gelap. Diatasnya langit kemerahan, seolah murka atas dosanya yang telah dengan sengaja melupakan Kultúrne Centrum Córdoba. Dengan air Danube yang sejuk kami membasuh muka. Penat itu pun hilang…

Tepi Danube, akhir Maret2016.
Muhammad Beni Saputra & Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat

Tulisan ini juga dimuat di: http://www.kibar-uk.org/2016/04/14/masjid-yang-terlupakan-bratislava-slovakia/

Indonesia and Norway: The Forgotten Relationship

While Indonesia's relations with Scandinavian countries have not received sufficient attention, our short visit to Norway recently showed that the ties between the two countries have witnessed a series of quite, yet important, developments in the recent years.
Historically, the ties between Indonesia and Norway can be dated back even before the Indonesian independence. As early as 1906, a Norwegian honorary consulate general was established in Jakarta. The government in Oslo was also among the first countries to recognise Indonesian sovereignty, followed immediately with the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1950.
Since then, the relationship between Jakarta and Oslo has expanded beyond political and diplomatic domains. In terms of economic partnership, it is reported that the trade volume stood at US$450 million in 2014, a 22% increase from the previous years. As for investments, Norway is one of the biggest investors to Indonesia with US$3,2 million amount of investments. According to the data from the Norwegian Embassy in Jakarta, there are about 35 Norwegian firms operating in different sectors in Indonesia, including oil and gas, renewable energy, maritime, and fishing.
Seeing great prospects in Indonesia, the government in Oslo decided to open a trade office, commonly known as Innovation Norway, in 2009. The office seeks to promote investment initiatives and advantage between the two countries by identifying opportunities and to open up new prospects with regard to mutual advantage. Another initiative came in the form of an MoU on the Establishment of Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation, which was signed in 2013.
Interestingly, environmental cooperation has been the axis around which Jakarta-Oslo relationship revolves. In May 2010, Indonesia and Norway signed an agreement on the reduction of greenhouse emission from burned forests or REDD+. Under the agreement, the Norwegian government granted $1 million for Indonesia to reduce carbon emission caused by deforestation. Indonesia is an important country for REDD. It has one of the fastest rates of deforestation in the world and, as a consequence of this deforestation, especially the destruction of peatswamp forests, the country is the world's third highest emitter of carbon dioxide. An important aspect of the deal involved establishing a 'degraded lands database' and the establishment of funds devoted to finalizing Indonesia's climate and forest strategy, building and institutionalizing capacity to monitor, report and verify reduced emissions, and putting in place enabling policies and institutional reforms.
In late 2012, the government in Oslo also sent a delegation to discuss a number of environmental issues including sustainability and forest protection. A year later, Norway, in collaboration with United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC),worked in a project to protect Jayapura's Cyclops Mountains. Funded by the Norwegian Embassy, the project concentrates on law enforcement. It uses specialized training, performance standards, and the development of a coordination network to build the capacity of law enforcement agencies and judicial officers. It is reported that the project successfully assisted the local government to finalise its "Local Regulations of Jayapura District on Protection and Management of Cyclops" and established a government budget-funded civilian task force to protect the Cyclops Conservation Area.
The most recent development was an agreement signed in November last year to support Jakarta's green economic development program. According to the deal, Norway will contribute in the form of a grant of US$19 million to finance several projects including investment in the sectors of renewable energy, special economic zone, forestry and utilization of other lands. More recently, the government in Oslo also pledged to offer $50 million in the development of peat restoration facility in Indonesia.
In the fishery sector, the two countries seem to acknowledge the benefits of cooperation. For Indonesia, Norway is an important partner in eradicating illegal fishing in the country. As one of the world's largest archipelagos, Indonesia is willing to reap the potential wealth of the surrounding sea. In 2009, the two countries signedan agreement in which the Indonesian-Norway Fisheries and Aquaculture Cooperation Committee was established. Both governments also pledged to expand their ties into the field of education and trainings, as well as the establishment of aquaculture that is linked to the National Aquatic Health Laboratory, and Joint Fisheries Management. At the same time, Oslo offered US$1 million aid to development a renewable energy park in Yogyakarta. In her visit to Oslo in August last year, Indonesia's Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti signed an agreement to strengthen ties in fishing industry. Both governments agreed to boost fisheries trade and discussed the establishment of a bilateral consultation forum of fishery.
Undeniably, energy cooperation is also on rise. During the visit of Norway's Prime Minister in late 2015, Jakarta and Oslo also agreed to cooperate on deep sea technology for oil and natural gas exploration. For Indonesia, this is important as most of its petroleum and gas reserves are situated in deep sea in the eastern part of the country. To complement this, Indonesia's state oil company PT Pertaminaplanned to establish a strong partnership with Statoi, a Norwegian petroleum firm. As for hydroelectric power, a plan has been made to jointly develop hydroelectric power plants in Sumba Island, Nusa Tenggara Timur.
Even though not as widely reported, Jakarta and Oslo maintain strong cultural and educational links with each other. In October 2015, for instance, the Indonesian Embassy in Oslo, together with other ASEAN representatives in the country, organised ASEAN Cultural Night in which ASEAN culture and traditional foods were showcased. Previously, Daemeter, a project by the Indonesian Embassy in Oslo, urged a number of organisations including Borneo Chic, Perkumpulan Indonesia Berseru, Indonesia Business Council for Sustainable Development (IBCSD), to participate in Reidselivsmessen 2014, the biggest travel and tourism exhibition in Norway.
There is also an increase of people-to-people exchanges between Jakarta and Oslo. There is a considerable growth of Indonesian tourists visiting Norway, and there is a significant number of Norwegians visiting Indonesia.
Cooperation on education is also maintained. This was evidenced by the signing of MoU between the Norwegian Technological University and Institut Teknologi Bandung. Other universities such as UGM and Ibn Sina Academy of Nursing have also reportedly established partnership with universities in Norway. There was also aplan to establish a cooperation between Indonesian Defence University and Norwegian institutions in the fields of peace keeping and military trainings. What is remarkable is that the two countries also pledged to establish a partnership in the spheres of interfaith dialogue and human rights. While stimulating cooperation is not a simple process, stronger bonds in education and culture might strengthen the ties between the two countries.

Complementary links continue between Indonesia and Norway through different channels. Both governments have maintained ties in global stage, such as in the Seven Nations Initiative (7NI) in the field of nuclear non-proliferation, Millennium Development Goals (MDFs), health, as well as foreign policy. Moreover, the two have also agreed to continue the joint cooperation with Afghanistan within the framework of South-South and triangular cooperation. In the past years, both governments have jointly implemented a number of triangular cooperation projects with Afghanistan in sectors of law enforcement, women empowerment, and education. In 2014, for example, 25 policewomen and 12 teachers from Afghanistan received training in community policing in Jakarta and Bandung.
Looking ahead, Indonesia-Norway relationship will continue to expand. Indonesia provides Norway not only a gateway to large investment opportunities, but also offers a way to expand to the wider ASEAN region.
On the other hand, Norway's top-notch technologies are important to Indonesia's energy and fishing industries. Oslo could also become an access to untapped consumer markets and possibly a hub for expansion in the wider Europe. At the same time, Norway's ventures are waited as Indonesia is currently in need of billions of dollars in investment to revamp its economy and bring down employment.
This piece is co-authored with Muhammad Beni Saputra, a postgraduate student at the University of Manchester.
This piece is also published by Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/muhammad-zulfikar-rakhmat/indonesia-and-norway-the-_b_9467584.html

Finding Slovakia's Forgotten Mosque

It was foggy and busy in the commercial quarter of Bratislava after sunrise on Wednesday. We were walking down streets full of shops, restaurants, and people, searching for the forgotten mosque in Slovakia. It was not a simple task to do. It took us nearly two hours to situate the nondescript fawn building along the Obchodná street in the medium-class business district of Bratislava.
In the beginning, we planned to follow the GPS on our phone, which showed that the mosque was situated beside Prima Banka building. However, that appeared not to be the case. We figured we needed to ask around. We hence decided to ask a number of passersby along the Obchodná street. Many of them had no idea where the mosque was, some looked at us weirdly because perhaps that question is not a common question there, and others did not know that if it even exists. "Is there a mosque here? I don't think so," asked a middle-aged man to his friend. We figured we had to refer to the mosque as Mešita (Slovakian word for mosque). Yet, people seem to believe that there is no mosque in the city.
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We decided to continue walking along the street until we reached at a small traditional market. At first, some shopkeepers there did not understand what we were searching for. But an old man told us that there is one mosque located behind a bar. We did not believe it. It is highly unlikely for a mosque to be situated close to what Muslims consider as an immoral place. Nevertheless, we decided to follow what the old man said.
As it turns out, the mosque, written as Kultúrne Centrum Córdoba (Islamic Center of Cordoba), is located down the Obchodná street and in between a book store and a gift shop. For many, it may be very difficult to recognise a building as a mosque as it has no sign or mark to identify as one. It is true that there is a bar written in the gate of the building. We decided to enter the building and we found a long corridor with no sign of mosque at all. What we found were a wine shop and a tattoo studio. This even strengthened our doubt that the mosque was located here. However, as we walked along towards the end of the corridor, we believed to have found the right place after finding an Arabic sign reads "the entrance is in the next door.''
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The mosque is not very big, but it is enough to hold congregation prayers of about 30 to 40 people. There is a wooden podium that is used for Friday sermons, but there is no decoration with elaborated patterns as found in common mosques. The mosque's floor is furnished with a red carpet and there is an Asmaul Husna (99 names of God) written on the black cloth hung on one of the walls. On the right side, we can find a number of Korans neatly arranged on a steel shelf.
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According to one man who works in the wine shop next to the mosque, the building has been there for a long time. The door is often closed and it is rarely visited. But he said that a large number of people come every Friday.
The Slovak Spectator reported that the centre's activities include regular prayers, exhibitions, and educational courses on Islam.
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Although lack of publicity, Islam has relatively a long history in Slovakia. It was reported that Muslims had lived in Slovakia for a long time. According to some sources during the 17th century, a small part of the country was ruled by the Ottomans. Nonetheless, things shifted after the Turks lost the Battle of Vienna.
It is not easy to find out or even estimate the exact number of Muslims residing in Slovakia. According to 2010's report by Pew Research Center, there were close to 11,000 Muslims in the country, constituting about 0.2 of the total population. It is believed that the number has increased in recent years. But until today, Islam is still not registered by the state as a recognised religion in the country. The Muslims here constitute of both foreign and domestic communities. Many arrived from the former Czechoslovakia as students, and decided to stay on and now working here.
It is reported that the general opinion of Islam and Muslims in Slovakia are predominantly negative. Most of the people whom we talked to believed that the main reason for an unpleasant image of Islam in the country is a lack of knowledge and the commonly biased impression of Islam in the media.
Slovakia is the only European state without an official mosque. The Kultúrne Centrum Córdoba has tried to attain an official permit from the government, but had its proposal rejected.
The existence of a small mosque in the heart of Bratislava demonstrates that Muslims have long been part of the country and will continue to be an important segment of the Slovakian society. Hence, it is more than clear now that the absence of a single mosque recognised by the state should be of particular concern to the government of Slovakia. This is because a mosque with its all religious activities not only serves as a place of worship for Muslims, but it can also be a central point to seek information about Islam for the society in general. 

This piece is co-authored with Muhammad Beni Saputra, a postgraduate student at the University of Manchester.
This piece is also published by Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/muhammad-zulfikar-rakhmat/finding-slovakias-forgott_b_9571980.html