HomeUncategorizedPresident SBY Speech on Global Intermedia Dialogue after Prophet Cartoon in 2006

President SBY Speech on Global Intermedia Dialogue after Prophet Cartoon in 2006

Hari ini, di Paris, penerbitan Charlie Hebdo merilis edisi post #Paris Attack.  Kalau membaca berita, ada rencana mereka memuat kartun Nabi.   Semoga tidak memancing aksi.


Di bawah ini pidato Presiden SBY saat membuka Global Intermedia Dialogue tahun 2006, sebuah pertemuan para jurnalis dari 50-an negara yang difasilitasi Kemlu RI dan Kemlu Norwegia untuk mendiskusikan media dan peliputan keberagaman pasca penerbitan kartun Nabi di media Jyllands-Posten, Denmark.


Statement of the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the opening of the Global Inter-Media Dialogue
02 Sep 2006

Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Strøre of the Kingdom of Norway,
Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda,
Governor of Bali,
Distinguished Participants,

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am pleased to welcome all of you to this Global Inter-Media Dialogue in Bali, which, I am proud to say, was again voted “the best island in the world” by Travel and Leisure Magazine, for three years in a row since 2004. For several months now, I have been looking forward to this gathering of leading mass media practitioners from all over the world—from Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the Americas and Asia—from various faiths, cultures and nations.  I must say at the start that I have the highest respect for journalists and journalism, and its contributions to democratic society.  I would not be standing here today if it had not been for the bravery and perseverance of some of your colleagues in Indonesia. They withstood censorship and persecution yet never gave up in their determination to expose stories that would help usher democratic change in our country. 


Because of their struggle, today freedom of speech and press freedom reign in Indonesia. Please join me in extending our gratitude to these champions of democracy.I greatly appreciate your taking the time to be here.  I also thank and commend all those who helped translate into reality this Indonesian initiative, especially the Government of Norway, which has so graciously agreed to co-sponsor this Dialogue.The idea to convene this Inter-Media Dialogue came-up during the cartoon crisis early this year, but then it evolved into a much larger issue pertaining to the role of the media worldwide in promoting freedom of speech, tolerance, peace and progress. 

Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Strøre of the Kingdom of Norway,Denpasar-Bali, 2 September 2006 The cartoon crisis was shock, a surprise to many of us. Muslim communities worldwide denounced the drawing and the irreverent depiction of the Prophet Muhammad SAW, and regretted that the cartoon was reprinted over and over again. Some western journalists responded that they were not aware that drawing the Prophet was prohibited in Islam. While the debate went on, in February, the streets of Pakistan, Palestine, Syria and Afghanistan burned with violent protests, and some 139 people were killed in the process. The cartoon crisis revealed that in a small world that has become much more inter-connected and inter-dependent, we still needed to build more bridges. Many more bridges.The most obvious issue that arose out of the cartoon crisis was how the media should address cultural and religious sensitivities.

Many muslim leaders did not condone the violence, and many, including myself, called for calm. But muslim leaders also felt that the media needed to demonstrate greater caution on issues which are ultra-sensitive to muslims. I remember at the height of crisis in February this year, I wrote an op-ed in The International Herald Tribune where I stressed the importance of promoting democracies of freedom AND tolerance, NOT democracies of freedom versus tolerance.

Indeed, addressing cultural sensitivities does not mean you are compromising free speech.As I have said, I personally owe a great debt to the importance of free speech, and other tenets of democracy. In my Independence Day address a few days ago, I reminded my fellow citizens that for our democracy to work, what we needed was a healthy combination of freedom, tolerance, and rule of law.Democracy in many nations is a work in progress, and respect for human rights and freedoms should be balanced with respect for the right against discrimination and degradation.There are those who complain that such notions can lead to self-censorship, which would stifle press freedom.But I am reminded of the United States’ Civil Rights movement in the 1960s.  My American friends tell me that the US media back then practiced a form of self-censorship, particularly in their portrayal of the race riots and race relations thereafter.  This self-censorship did not dilute press freedom, but rather helped to ease the violence, strengthened the Civil Rights movement, and helped America’s multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies thrive.


This sensitivity remains in today’s America, with regards to the cartoon crisis. The Associated Press has not made the cartoons available to its member newspapers. Nor have the major American newspapers published the cartoons by other means. Again, what I am proposing is more cultural sensitivity.  Throughout the cartoon crisis, I noted that many of your colleagues in Asia pointed out that European media would think twice before satirizing the Holocaust. An Iranian newspaper recently ran a Holocaust cartoon contest to see if Western newspapers would print them; none did. When The Last Temptation of Christ, a controversial motion picture about Jesus Christ, was released, many countries banned its showing. Some theaters in France were even razed during these protests. The anger displayed then is not that different from the anger expressed by Muslims protesting the cartoons.


The Muslim community worldwide is not asking for special treatment. It is merely asking for the same respect that is given to other religious groups. As United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said: “We believe that freedom of the press entails responsibility and discretion, and should respect the beliefs and tenets of all religions.”As leader of the country with the world’s largest muslim population, I can also convey to this forum that there is a feeling among many muslims that they are not being portrayed fairly by the international media, and many in fact are complaining of double standard.When non-Muslims are killed in the line of fire, they say, Western media outlets display much more outrage than when Muslims are killed routinely in Palestine, Iraq, and now Lebanon. I take note, for example, of a report commissioned by the BBC’s Board of Governors regarding BBC’s coverage of the Middle-East conflicts.  And what did the report recommend? More background, more context, so that viewers come away with a more nuanced understanding of the issues wracking the region.


There is there a PERCEPTION held by many, rightly or wrongly, that the greater Western community regards, to be quite blunt about it, that a Muslim life is less precious. The media can help right this image. By learning about one another and discussing each other’s differences and similarities, we are taking one more step towards easing tensions between nations.The fact is that while the world has changed profoundly in the past several decades, so too have the mass media.Gone are the days when you could say: “Ours is a government of men and morning newspapers.”  For aside from the morning news, there is now the noon time newscast, the evening news edition, the prime time telecast, the midnight news and, yes, the breaking news from the internet. At no time have the mass media been as omnipresent as they are today and as influential on public opinion.   The press has been the foremost agent in the spread of knowledge and values.  Without you, there would be so much more of the darkness of ignorance in the world today, and the quality of human life would be so much lower.


The press has also often taken on the role of a watchdog to governments and other powerful institutions.  In societies where the press is given free rein, it has curbed the abuses of government officials and the elite. The military genius Napoleon Bonaparte once admitted: “I fear one newspaper more than ten battalions.” And the press has served as the mouthpiece of people who normally have no voice in public affairs. They often serve as the venue for the airing of grievances that otherwise would not be brought to the attention of authorities.  Today the mass media are called upon to play a much more complex role, if only because of the complexities of the world we live in. We have left the Cold War behind us, but we still live in a fragile world marked by divisions, conflicts, disparities, bigotry, restlessness. There are no neat divisions of the human race. If you divide the world into East and West, or North and South, you cannot point out clear boundaries.


Civilizations interpenetrate and enrich one another. It is in the face of such immense diversity that the human race is challenged today to promote a comprehensive and enduring dialogue among civilizations, among cultures and faiths, among all ways of life and traditions. Dialogue is about the only way humankind can be stopped from dividing itself to death. Dialogue is the only way we can look at one another closely enough to recognize our shared humanity and realize that we are all children of God Almighty. This is the reason behind Indonesia’s program of fostering interfaith and intercultural dialogue at the national, regional and interregional level.  This will remain an important aspect of our foreign policy. That dialogue and inter-change will be much more meaningful with the active participation of the media.


The mass media are with us every day of our lives—upon waking, while we are at work and at play, and while we lounge in our living rooms. They can pierce into our consciousness and leave lasting impressions there. They can therefore tremendously add impact and velocity to any dialogue between civilizations. The media of different nations can connect civilizations in a way that other channels cannot. Thus when media of different cultures come together to learn about one another, it is not only the media that benefits from the greater understanding—it is the community at large.The media can even help strengthen peace. I note that conflicts tend to proliferate and deteriorate, and sometimes erupt into violence, in an atmosphere of clash of perceptions. In times of hostility, it is always critical to narrow the perception gap, avoid misunderstanding, and maintain communication through accurate information flow. No one can do this better than the media. 


 And so I address myself to the leading lights of mass media today with a challenge and a plea: you are the conscience of society, you are the agent of change, and we count on you to help the human race by promoting freedom of speech, spreading tolerance, and advancing peace and understanding. That is what I fervently hope you will begin to do in this Global InterMedia Dialogue. I wish you success in your deliberations.  By saying Bismillahirrahmanirrahim, I declare the Global Intermedia Dialogue open.Thank you


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