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

Will Occupy Wall Street Take Place in Indonesia?

Recently, a massive demonstration took place in Jakarta, organised by a group of taxi and three-wheeler drivers. As reported by several media outlets, the protest was triggered by drivers who feel that their income is being eroded by the increase of online-based transportation services, such as Uber, Grabcar, GrabBike, and Go-Jek.
While this opinion is not wrong, one aspect is largely ignored by many engaged in the demonstration; the widening gap between the rich and the poor in Indonesia. For this reason, it makes sense to predict that Occupy Jakarta (inspired by the Occupy Wall Street staged in New York in 2011) will reoccur with greater scale and influence.
As reported by CNN in October 2011, Occupy Jakarta once happened even though only about 200 people attended. This number is insignificant in relation to the country's total population, which is more than 250 million people.
Nonetheless, by considering the social, economic, and political conditions of Indonesia today, there are several strong indicators of why Occupy Jakarta will take place again.
First, income inequality is increasingly prevalent in the country. Indonesia has always been perceived by local and international observers as enjoying positive economic growth in the worldwide context. The archipelago is also discussed in mainstream media as a country where the middle-class population has increased significantly. Nonetheless, behind these success stories are stories of grief. The impressive performance of the Indonesian economy over the last 15 years has actually paid little attention to the poor, as claimed by the World Bank Country Director for Indonesia, Rodrigo A. Chaves. Consequently, the poor increasingly lose out while the rich become richer.
It is difficult to ignore Chaves' statement, especially if we refer to the data provided by the World Bank and Indonesia's Ministry of Finance. The World Bank reported that the growth of the Indonesian economy is enjoyed only by 20% of its wealthy population. Moreover, it is also reported that within the period of 2003 to 2010, there was a noticeable difference in the percentage of the increase of Indonesia's consumption. 10% of the richest increased its consumption by as much as 6% per year, while 40% of the poorest experienced only a 2% increase each year. The World Bank also noted that only 10% of the population controls 77% of Indonesia's total wealth and financial assets. If pursued, this means that 1% of the country's wealthy population controls more than half of Indonesia's assets.
Secondly, many companies in Indonesia play a role as the production engine of Rupiah. As is widely known, many large companies pour massive amounts of money into the support of legislative and executive candidates. What is interesting is that the flow of funds from companies is sanctioned by the Election Commission, albeit with certain restrictions (500 million Rupiah). The relationship between political candidates and large companies is undeniably mutual. One side needs an injection of funds for their campaigns while the other requires favourable government policies.
The last Presidential election is a prime example. One of the candidates, Prabowo Subianto, received a contribution worth 4.8 billion Rupiah from PT Arsari Mineral. This number certainly exceeded the minimum amount set by the Commission. Another example is the admission made by the incumbent governor of Jakarta, Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama, that he received campaign contributions from a number of companies, amounting to a total of 4.5 billion Rupiah. There are numerous similar cases which would be impossible to be recount given their number and the vast area of Indonesia. However, it should be underlined that not all donations flowing to the political candidates are recorded transparently. For example, the Indonesian Corruption Watch reports that only 17 out of 11,775 companies declared themselves as contributors to the campaign funds of President Joko Widodo. If a Presidential election that is large in scale does not have transparency in its funding, it makes sense to argue that many companies pour funds into political campaigns at a local level.
This phenomenon is the main reason why government policies always stand alongside large companies. Land conflicts that occur between local communities and companies in various part of Indonesia could be cited as an example. In North Sumatra, for instance, there was a dispute between the local community and a gold mining company, PT Sorik Mas Maining. The bloody clash successfully depicted the protestors as the culprits. A similar occurrence took place in Riau province, where the law governing customary land (communal land) sided with the companies. Even the land dispute in Jambi between Dusun Tiga Suku Anak Dalam (SAD 113) and PT Asiatic Persada resulted in the creation of the motto; "Today we occupy the plantation - Tomorrow Jakarta!" As with many other disputes, the people living around the firm, including the Suku Anak Dalam, are positioned as troublemakers. When the clashes occurred, some individuals were injured and 80 houses were set alight by the security forces. Regulations favouring companies are also included in the legislations regulating investments in Indonesia, which mainly benefit foreign companies.
The recent riot in Jakarta should be a reminder of how wide the gap is between the rich and the poor in Indonesia. Wealth continues to be distributed among 1% of the population, while the rest must be satisfied with little. Companies proved to be very powerful in front of the people as they are backed up by the government. These two phenomena are like fire in the husk. Burning but not apparent. But once it appears, it will be there with a far more powerful scale than before.
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/will-occupy-wall-street-t_b_9643174.html