Through the Lens: Life and Politics in Asia | Society | Southeast Asia

‘Relax, It’s Just Religion,’ Says Indonesian Author

To foster tolerance, Feby Indirani’s new book encourages understanding through humor.

Home to the world’s largest Muslim population, Indonesia is feared to be turning more conservative, many believe, after the sentencing of former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, or Ahok, on charges of blasphemy, which he denied. While that fear might be true if one looks at the political opposition, the archipelago’s youth have also renewed their commitment to resist religious intolerance. Author Feby Indirani is one of them.

Indirani’s new book, “Bukan Perawan Maria,” urges readers to differentiate between religion as a path and the truth as the destination. A collection of 19 short stories, the book encourages the use of humor, and not passion, in responding to social and political issues related to religion.

The decision to write the book, and the publishing process that followed, weren’t easy, Indirani, who identifies herself as a Muslim and a believer, explains in this video interview held in Jakarta.