Teaching Tolerance Through Comics in Indonesia

A series of comics is being released in Indonesia to promote diversity and tolerance in hopes to combat messages of intolerance from Muslim extremist groups.  A newly released comic profiles the true story of Nasir Abas who became disenchanted with the Islamic radical movement.  The al-Qaida-linked militant is doing it through a 137 page graphic novel, Kutemukan Makna JihadAbas fought in Afghanistan against the Soviet invasion and later became the leader of Jemaah Islamiyah.  Abas had a change of heart when the group began to target civilians including the 2002 Bali bombing that killed more than 200 people.  Though he wasn’t directly involved, some people he trained were.

Abas now advocates for religious tolerance and works with authorities to rehabilitate Islamic radicals.  In an interview Abas had to this to say:

I am a Muslim. I have my own obligations and one of my obligations is to tell the good deeds and to prohibit the bad deeds.  So I have a responsibility to stop my friends not to do the bad deeds.

But this is only one example of what’s going on.  At the Ash-Shidiqiyah Islamic boarding school outside of Jakarta, teenage students are being introduced to another comic series that focuses on the adventures of students and how they deal with stereotypes and misinformation.

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Talking to the AP Abas said:

I want children to learn from my experience.  I don’t want them to make the same mistakes.