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Friday, June 22, 2007


I have been reading some files in the desktop containing some old writings of mine that I have posted in my blogs when I found one article inspired by one article I read in one national newspaper published in English. “A place without social discrimination would be utopia.”

Check my post at

It reminded me of one short email I got from my college friend some months ago. She works for a private university in a quite small town. The university belongs to one biggest Islamic organization in Indonesia. She complained that her workplace had been acting more strictly to the employees by interfering their private life, for example they were to pray Dzuhur (noon prayer) at the mosque at campus, they were to attend the monthly religious gathering, including they were to obey the fatwa issued by that Islamic organization such as to celebrate the Idul Fitri day on the date/day the Head Office in Jakarta decided. When an employee did not pray Dzuhur at the mosque for some time, or when he/she did not attend the religious gathering for some months, he/she would be summoned and interrogated why he/she did not obey the rules.

My friend, female, apparently belongs to a somewhat rebellious yet determined type. She seldom prays Dzuhur at the mosque and attends the gathering because at that time she has classes to handle. Besides, I know her character which is somewhat similar to mine: hate being indoctrinated by something that to her logical way of thinking did not make sense. She was of opinion that the gathering would just be used for political reason, or perhaps the attendants would just be lectured by some indoctrination. I saw my friend as a good Muslim, wearing veil, praying five times a day, not as a result of illogical indoctrination, but as a result of her own searching of God.

In the email she told me about one of her workmates who got fired when he was summoned and interrogated why he did not join any religious gatherings or any other religious activity, he simply said, “I am not a supporter of Muhammadiyah.” No time to give reasons, no time to talk it over. “You are out!” was the only thing the university said.

“Why on earth did the university value an employee not from his/her work ethic, but from religious practice instead?” My friend questioned.

At the same time, I remembered one case that happened to my online friend. She got fired because she was the only Non Muslim in the company. The difference was that the company did not tell her directly that it was caused by different religion.

At the same time, I also remembered my own case. I got laid off because I was a Muslim employee working for a private university that would change the vision into Church campus in the future; and the university happened to belong to a Chinese businessperson. I know I was also considered too smart for my superior, the Dean of the faculty and she felt really insecure with my presence there. The same case as what happened to my online friend, the company tried hiding the main reason for getting rid of me.

Discrimination does happen everywhere, not only to women in this patriarchal culture, but also among different ethnic groups, different religions, even to the same religions but adhering different religious groups.

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johnorford said...

the way i see it organisations that are inherently discriminatory are never going to be as good as those which are fair.

discriminatory organisation value race, religion, skin colour. fair organisations value hard work and good service.

Nana Podungge said...

I cannot agree with you more than that, John.

Btw, I just found this comment of your five years later. :) The workplace I mentioned here still existed, but it failed to grow bigger as the owner expected back then. :)