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[SaveMaryam #4] FAQ about SaveMaryam’s controversies

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FAQ about SaveMaryam’s controversies
by Maulana M. Syuhada
11 August 2012 / 23 Ramadan 1433

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Is Mercy Mission a legal organisation?
2. Is Save Maryam campaign one of Mercy’s projects?
3. What is the background of the campaign?
4. What is the aim of the campaign?
5. Is it true that two Million Indonesians leaving Islam for Christianity every year?

6. What is the true number of Muslims converting to Christianity?
7. Why Mercy comes with 2 Million?
8. How good is Mercy’s projection?
9. Why Mercy’s projection is very poor?
10. Is it true that ICG indicated that Indonesia will cease to be a Muslim majority country by 2035?
11. What is ICG’s response to the misuse of its institution in the video?
12. What is Mercy’s response to ICG’s statement?
13. On press release, Mercy say they are working in partnership with Muhammadiyah, is it true?
14. What is Mercy’s response to Muhammadiyah’s statement?
15. Do Mercy know about Maulana’s notes?
16. What are people’s reactions to Tawfique’s comments on Maulana?
17. Did Tawfique respond to any of the above comments?
18. Why Muslims should reject and rectify Save Maryam campaign?
19. But if we didn’t exaggerate the figure, we wouldn’t get a lot of money, thus we wouldn’t be able to prevent Christianisation. So, in the end it’s a good thing, isn’t it?
20. If we didn’t exaggerate the facts, people wouldn’t be aware of this Christianisation. Isn’t it good to raise awareness?
21. Does SaveMaryam’s campaign cause any harm to the Indonesian society?

____________________________________________________________________

1. Is Mercy Mission a legal organisation?

Yes, it’s a UK registered charity. Charity Registration No. 1122922
Address: Mercy Mission, PO BOX 18776, London E6 3AE, Tel. +44 (0) 203 318 1001

2. Is Save Maryam campaign one of Mercy’s projects?

Yes, it is.

3. What is the background of the campaign?

“Early in 2004 our team began to receive reports of huge numbers of people leaving Islam in Indonesia. At that time we were informed of findings showing that within our lifetime the rate of growth of Christianisation was heading for a massive societal as well as geopolitical shift in the region. It would resemble East Timor when a few decades ago, due to the high levels of Christianisation – it had broken off from Indonesia. Due to a 70 times increase in the number of Christians in just 100 years, what was happening in Africa was also significant.” (SaveMaryam’s Press Release, 25th July 2011) [1]

Comments:
This claim is not supported by any reference, let alone a reliable source. It was only said, “we were informed”, and it can be anybody who gave the information. Also, East Timor being independent from Indonesia has nothing to do with Christianisation. Mercy’s claim is baseless and contradicts the history. The history about East Timor is well known in the literature, amongst them [2],[3],[4],[5]. This misleading paragraph about East Timor shows how poor the quality of Mercy’s report is.

4. What is the aim of the campaign?

“Mercy Mission’s aim is to help in reviving Islam in the world’s largest Muslim majority country Indonesia and save it from losing its Muslim majority.” (SaveMaryam’s Frequently Asked Question, 25th July 2011) [6]

Comments:
When the theoretical foundation is false, then the aim (save Indonesia from losing its Muslim majority) is set based on the wrong theory/assumption. The entire campaign is false.

5. Is it true that two Million Indonesians leaving Islam for Christianity every year?

No, it’s not true!

From 2000 to 2010, total Indonesian population had increased by 3,639,933 per year.
– Muslim population had increased by 2,964,739 per year.
– Christian population had increased by 548,141 per year.

If total Christian population only increased by 548,141 per year how could 2,000,000 Muslims converted to Christian per year?

And of that 548,141, the biggest percentage is likely due to natural growth (birth-rate). So, the annual increase due to conversion from other religion is even smaller.

6. What is the true number of Muslims converting to Christianity?

The increase of Christian population only 548,141 per year, so we are talking the number between 0 and 548,141. This increase is due to several factors, amongst them are natural growth (birth-rate), migration, conversion from other religion, etc. A thorough study is required to find out the percentage of each factor.

7. Why Mercy comes with 2 Million?

Because they didn’t use the census data; they use a projection instead. They used the census data for start period only (year 2000). For the end period instead of using census data 2010 (to mantain consistency), they used a projection (for year 2009).

The gap between their projection and census data is very big, because their projection only comes from interviews. That’s why they came with a spectacular number, 2 Million.

8. How good is Mercy’s projection?

Very poor! They project that the percentage of Christian population in 2009 would be 16%. In fact the Christian population in 2010 is only 9.86% according to the census data.

9. Why Mercy’s projection is very poor?

Because they only use data from interview. According to their press release, there are four sources of projection (all only interviews):
– World Harvest = 20%
– Secret Believers = 17%
– Secret Believers/ICG = 15%
– Religious Ministry = 12%

They got all the figures from a footnote in ICG report, (Indonesia: Christianisation and Intolerance, 2004 page 2, footnote no.4).

So, according to the footnote above, their sources of information are:
– A source (a person) from the Indonesian office of World Harvest.
– An official (a person) at the Ministry of Religious Affairs.
– A website Secret Believers (unofficial data).

So, the sources of these figures are two people and a website. Whilst we can’t check the people, we can check the website. Below is the Secretbelievers’ website:

Source: http://www.secretbelievers.org/sb_watchlist_indonesia.aspx

It says that the percentage is believed to be between 15-17%, though this is only an unofficial figure.

Even though ICG has clearly denied that they’re making projection, but Mercy mentioned it as one of the four sources (ie. Secret Believer / ICG = 15%).

So where this claim (ICG projected that Christian population is 15%) comes from?

It comes from a line in page 2 paragraph 4:

“Many Protestant evangelicals believe the true percentage of Christians is closer to 12 to 15 per cent, and some put the figure even higher, although this is dismissed as wishful thinking by more objective sources (4).” [1]

Yes, this is shocking! They claim that ICG makes a projection of 15%. In fact what ICG did is only quoting the above sentence on its report. (See the picture above)

So, there is no surprise that Mercy Mission come out with 2 Million in the end.

Read more:
Note #10 Debunking SaveMaryam’s Two Million – A Dodgy Projection [2]

10. Is it true that ICG indicated that Indonesia will cease to be a Muslim majority country by 2035?

No!
Let’s have a look on how they twisted this information in the video!
The original ICG report (first page) looks like this:

In the video, it looks like this:

The narrator in the video says:

“Statistics from the International Crisis Group 2012 indicated IF THE GROWTH OF CHRISTIANITY CONTINUES AT ITS CURRENT RATE, BY 2035 INDONESIA CEASE TO BE A MUSLIM MAJORITY COUNTRY.”

Three major flaws here:

– It’s not a statistics from International Crisis Group 2012 as explained by the narrator. It’s one of ICG reports published in 2010.
– The date in the video is Jakarta/Brussels, 24 November 2012. So, the briefing takes place in the future.
– The sentence about Indonesia will cease to be a Muslim Majority country by 2035 doesn’t exist in ICG report. So, it’s a claim made by Mercy Mission, but they presented it in the video as if ICG report indicate this.

11. What is ICG’s response to the misuse of its institution in the video?

ICG accused Mercy Mission of seriously misrepresents its report, and has demanded them to remove all references to the organisation immediately.

ICG through its official facebook account (International Crisis Group) posted the statement on SaveMaryam’s facebook page on 28th July 2012, but it was deleted by SaveMaryam’s admin.

It reposted the statement on “Muslim Unite to Question Save Maryam” on 29th July 2012 through Sidney Jones (ICG’s Senior Adviser, Asia Program, Jakarta)

And finally on Tawfique Chowdury’s page on 30th July 2012.

12. What is Mercy’s response to ICG’s statement?

Unlisted the original video (English).

The video is only unlisted from Youtube, so it’s not completely removed. The old link’s address has gone viral on the internet, so anyone who clicks that link could still watch the video, and donate the money. It seems Mercy has no intention to give people the true information.

Unlisted Video: youtube.com/watch?v=6E9NcbVa4FU

Published a revised version of the video

Mercy removed ICG reference from its video, but didn’t revise the figure on the new video, and just said “Statistics indicated” (without reference to any sources). A revised version of the video was published on youtube on 31st July 2012.

Revised video: youtube.com/watch?v=3DrskbDaw3A

Keep the Arabic version video as it is (no revision) and concentrate on Arabic market to gather money.

The Arabic version (with a reference to ICG on it) is still on till now. There is no revision for Arabic version. Whilst the English speaking community have got the counter notes about SaveMaryam, the Arabic community wasn’t aware that the campaign is full of flaws. So, the donations keep coming from Arabic countries. They found a new market to cash in.

Arabic version: youtube.com/watch?v=ecPe1vFcYQU

13. On press release, Mercy say they are working in partnership with Muhammadiyah, is it true?

No! Raja Juli Antoni, from Muhammadiyah Bureau for International Relations and Cooperation, has clarified that there is no partnership between Muhammadiyah and Mercy Mission.

14. What’s Mercy’s response to Muhammadiyah’s statement?

Mercy revised the FAQ. The sentences about partnership with Muhammadiyah were removed, and replaced by “Mercy Mission is seeking to work with a number of local partners in Indonesia.

FAQ Old Version, published on 25 July 2012

FAQ New Version (as accessed on 1 August 2012 at 11pm GMT)

15. Do Mercy know about Maulana’s notes?

Yes, they do. In fact, Tawfique Chowdury, the director of Mercy Mission, wrote a status on his facebook page about Maulana:

16. What are people’s reactions to Tawfique’s comments on Maulana?

At beginning it was a mixed reaction:

Full comments can be found here [3] or on Tawfique’s facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tawfique-Chowdhury/153958201918

Once Indonesian community became aware of Tawfique Chowdury’s personal attack on Maulana’s profile, many of Indonesian started to write some comments on his status defending Maulana and criticising his action and kept demanding him to respond to the false figures and facts used by Mercy. [3]



17. Did Tawfique respond to any of the above comments?

No, he didn’t. He keeps quite.

18. Why Muslims should reject and rectify Save Maryam campaign?

Da’wah has to be conducted in Islamic way, in “Ahsan” way (good and wise). Save Maryam campaign started from dishonesty and its method is not “Ahsan” (eg. spreading false and provocative video, causing disharmony between religions in Indonesia, etc.)

If we justify our lie because it is for da’wah, then we will start to justify the other lies as long as it is for da’wah/religion purpose. It’s like justifying the money we get from gambling/lottery/stealing as long as the money is for da’wah purpose. We would then say, there’s nothing wrong in manipulating the financial report as long as it’s for “Ummah”, etc, etc.

More about this topic:
Note # 7 “Mengapa Umat Islam Harus Menentang dan Meluruskan Kampanye #SaveMaryam” (Indonesian Language) [4]

19. But if we didn’t exaggerate the figure, we wouldn’t get a lot of money, thus we wouldn’t be able to prevent Christianisation. So, in the end it’s a good thing, isn’t it?

Oh Lord, please forgive us! It seems that we know better than God.
We violate His rules in order to get a big fund to save Muslims from leaving Islam.
The only one who can save someone from leaving Islam is Allah SWT, not Mercy Mission.
Even with only small fund, but if Allah SWT wants it to happen, in one second all Indonesian population could become Muslims.
Conversely, even though we have massive fund, but if Allah SWT says no, even a 200 Trillion dollars wouldn’t be able to prevent someone leaving Islam.
Allah SWT is the Greatest. All power and will is His. None had the power, when Allah had established and decreed a thing, to impede or stop Him.

He is the All Knowing. He is the Creator. Just follow His rules, Insha Allah, we’ll be safe.

20. If we didn’t exaggerate the facts, people wouldn’t be aware of this Christianisation. Isn’t it good to raise awareness?

Again and again. Human being is very arrogant. Do we think that we know better than Allah SWT? Allah SWT has set the rules. So, what we have to do is to follow it. If what we are doing is for Allah SWT, why do we have to violate His rules? Why do we have to lie? Why do we have to use a provocative way? Etc. Etc.

Allah SWT has guaranteed that if we follow His rules, Insha Allah, we will be safe, and protected. Conversely, if we break His rules, then we’re building a disaster for ourselves. Naudzubillahi min dzalik.

21. Does SaveMaryam’s campaign cause any harm to the Indonesian society?

Yes. SaveMaryam video could potentially cause a deep religious conflict between Muslims and Christians in Indonesia. The video could provoke hardline Islamists to justify their violence conduct against Christians, especially in some very vulnerable conflict area, like the town of Bekasi, where the fight between two hardliners of Muslims and Christians has taken place on several occasions.

It was an irony that the ICG report in 2010 (Indonesia : Christianisation and Intolerance) [1] made as the main reference by Mercy Mission to justify SaveMaryam campaign is in fact a report that explains how religious tolerance in Indonesia has come under increasing strain in recent years, particularly where hardline Islamists and Christian evangelicals compete for the same ground, especially in the town of Bekasi.

In their report ICG explained how Islamists use “Christianisation” as a justification for mass mobilisation and vigilante attacks.

“ The tensions brought about by these clashing fundamentalisms are nowhere clearer than In Bekasi, a suburb of Jakarta, where a series of disputes since 2008 over church construction, alleged mass conversion efforts and affronts to Islam have led in some cases to violence. The Indonesian government needs a strategy to address growing religious intolerance, because without one, mob rule prevails. Local officials address each incident only when it gets out of hand and usually by capitulating to whoever makes the most noise. Every time this happens, the victors are emboldened to raise the stakes for the next confrontation.” [1]

In another paragraph ICG explained:

“Among the many reasons for developing a strategy to curb communal tensions, one deserves particular attention: the issue of “Christianisation” may be driving non-violent and violent extremists together.” [1]

Instead of helping Indonesia to mitigate the conflict and promote religious tolerance, Mercy Mission are fuelling the fire. So, there’s a little surprise if ICG accused Mercy Mission of working against the effort of nurturing religious tolerance.

“ICG concludes by urging the Indonesian government to undertake a series of steps to nurture religious tolerance. Your distortion of our report suggests that you are trying to do exactly the opposite.” (Sidney Jones, International Crisis Group: Senior Adviser, Asia Program, Jakarta) [5]

Mercy Mission has distorted the ICG’s report that has a big concern about the religious tolerance situation in Indonesia (and urged the government to take a swift action and strong leadership to mitigate the conflict), into a campaign that provokes a religious conflict between Muslims and Christians using a made up number, 2 Million per year, and told them that in 2035, the Muslims will lose their majority because of Christianisation.

Save Maryam campaign is not only potentially creating division amongst Indonesians, but also within the Muslims. As explained in ICG reports [1] that the issue of “Christianisation” may be driving non-violent and violent extremists together. So, the Muslim fractions who believe in tolerance and peace would not only face the violent hardliners but also the hardliners who previously used non-violent way.

More reading:
Note #9 SaveMaryam and the Potential Religious Conflict in Indonesia (SaveMaryam dan Potensi Konflik Antar Umat Bergama di Indonesia) [6]

References:

[1] International Crisis Group (ICG), Indonesia: “Christianisation” and Intolerance, 24 November 2010, Asia Briefing N°114
[2] Syuhada, Maulana, Debunking SaveMaryam’s Two Million – A Dodgy Projection, “Facebook Note”, 1 August 2012.
[3] http://www.saveudin.org/very-strange-world-we-live-in/
[4] Syuhada, Maulana, Why Muslims have to Reject and Rectify #SaveMaryam’s campaign (Mengapa Umat Islam Harus Menentang dan Meluruskan Kampanye #SaveMaryam), Facebook Note, 1 Agustus 2012.
[5] http://www.saveudin.org/icg-demanded-savemaryam-to-remove-all-references-to-icg/
[6] Syuhada, Maulana, SaveMaryam and the Potential Religious Conflict in Indonesia (SaveMaryam dan Potensi Konflik Antar Umat Bergama di Indonesia), Facebook Note, 6 August 2012.

Source: http://www.saveudin.org/11-faq-about-savemaryam-controversies/

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  1. […] [SaveMaryam #4] FAQ about SaveMaryam’s controversies […]

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