What the Mainstream Media Probably Won’t Tell You about the Protests against Ahok

In politics, everybody is free to choose his friends and allies – Lalu Prasad Yadav

Basuki Tjahaya Purnama, better known as Ahok, is currently under investigation by the authorities following allegations of blasphemy. The authorities began to investigate the case after a rally on 4 November 2016 that the mainstream media reported as being conducted by radical Muslim and/or intolerance groups. This rally, which was first rally in Jakarta to protest against Ahok, was attended by approximately 2 million people from all over Indonesia, although early estimates from the authorities were that there were at most 50 thousand people in attendance. The biggest group of participants for the rally came from the members of the Islamic Defender’s Front (FPI – Front Pembela Islam), who numbering approximately 200 thousand people. However, the rally was not only attended by FPI members. From the scattered reports from the mainstream and small media, we know that moderate and peaceful Muslim groups such as Majelis Adz Dzikra and Daarut Tauhid also sent hundreds or thousands of participants to the rally. It was also supported by more than twenty five moderate Islamic groups, such as Daarul Quran Indonesia and Dewan Masjid Indonesia Jakarta. Even some Indonesian celebrities took part in the rally, including Neno Warisman, David Chalik, Ahmad Dhani, Peggy Melati Sukma, and Jaya Suprana. That such a diverse crowd went to this protest gives us a picture how the rally was against Ahok and not Christianity.

Some people, like Noor Huda Ismail, argue that the atmosphere of Jakarta towards the election for governor in 2017 is just a small part of a larger fight between the three big players in Indonesian politics: Megawati, SBY and Prabowo.[1] Hence, the issue of acts of blasphemy committed by Ahok is just the tip of the iceberg concerning the complexity of political intrigues between the big players. However, to say Ahok’s case is only provoked by political competition would be wrong.

What brings Ahok to this point is himself. While most mainstream media, not to mention foreign mass media, try to skew the narrative of what is happening in Indonesia on Ahok’s case concerning the accusation of blasphemy as I refer later for the sake of Islamophobia industry, other antecedent facts should also be added to the incident where Ahok is later accused for blasphemy.

Ahok has been accumulating problems for himself in Indonesian politics. Did you know that he often openly attacks his political opponents and critics and when he speaks he frequently uses the rude word such as “taik” (shit)? Have you heard that his policy on Jakarta Bay reclamation project, which causes social and economic problems for poor people, has been under investigation by the Corruption Eradication Commission of Indonesia since 2014 but without any resolution? Have you heard that the reclamation project in Jakarta Bay and the relocation of poor people in Bukit Duri is being questioned by Mahfud MD as against the law, criticised for marginalising urban poor people by some national journalists like Wisnu Nugroho, and portrayed in, which is now banned for public watching in Jakarta, a documentary movie “Jakarta Unfair”? Did you know that the exaggerated claim that Ahok is the one of the frontiers in corruption eradication and humane urban planning policies in Indonesian politics has also been debunked? Have you heard how Catholic activists like Romo (Father) Sandyawan Sumardi  and national Chinese humanist activists like Jaya Suprana are against Ahok for his behaviours and policies? Have you ever heard about the controversies surrounding the land procurement for Sumber Waras hospital done by the Jakarta’s government under Ahok? What about the dispute over BMW Park? Have you also read a satire written by senior Indonesian journalist, Rusdi Mathari, about the feud between Khoe Seng Seng[2] and Ahok entitled “Balada Bacot Ahok”? Did you know that Ahok also created tension with the native Jakartanese, the Betawi people? Have you also heard about gentrification in Jakarta and the problems caused by the eviction of poor people in some parts of Jakarta?

Ahok was not attacked by protesters in the rally held on 4 November 2016 simply because he is a Christian. That is, if I may say, maybe half-truth for some protesters as there were some hate speech against Ahok’s religion and ethnicity reported also. But if you take a close look on Jakarta’s politics, the hate speech against Ahok was articulated long before the blaphemy case started. It actually began with Ahok’s policy where he arrogantly[3] evicted people in Luar Batang and Pasar Ikan areas for the sake of controversial reclamation project in Jakarta Bay.[4][5] Jakarta has had a Non-Muslim governor before and some parts of Indonesia have been ruled by non-Muslim governors.[6] It is not true if there is a claim that Ahok is [or would be] the first non-Muslim governor in Jakarta and or in Indonesia which creates this chaotic situation. There was a Jakarta’s governor named Henk Ngantung, a Chatolic.[7] Ahok was protested and fought because he is believed to make jokes about others’ beliefs, which is considered inappropriate in Indonesian politics (or not elegant in any country’s politics), as one of many contributing matrix.

We need to look back on Ahok’s case to get a thorough understanding of the sentiments mounting because of Ahok’s behaviour in public and his government policies. On 26 September 2016, he visited Pulau Seribu to promote the provincial government’s program on fish nurseries. At the event, he said: “Kalau bapak ibu gak bisa pilih saya karena dibohongi pakek surat Al Maidah 51, macem-macem itu. Kalau bapak ibu merasa gak milih neh karena saya takut neraka, dibodohin gitu, ya gak apa-apa.” (If you cannot choose me because you are being manipulated by some people who use one verse in the Quran Al Maidah: 51, and other stuff about not giving your vote to me. If you feel that you cannot vote for me because you are afraid of hell if you decide to vote me, being manipulated by this verse, it is okay then).  He was not just endorsing himself for the next gubernatorial election in 2017, but criticising the use of one particular verse in the Quran which is used internally within some Muslim groups to direct them to only choose their fellow believers as their leaders. And it was not Ahok’s first time to criticize, and make fun to what most Muslims believe about the verse.

The verse mentioned by Ahok, Al Maidah: 51, has been used by some Muslim groups for decades to determine how they choose their leaders generally, whilst other Muslim groups interpret this verse contextually based on the situation when the verse was revealed to the prophet Muhammad (pbuh), hence they believe that it can only be applied by Muslims when there is a conflict only between religions. Other Muslim groups interpret it progressively and believe the verse is no longer relevant considering the spirit of democracy and or pluralism. These three interpretations live side by side in the Indonesian democracy as personal preference, as it is every citizen’s right to hold onto what they believe, just like anyone else in different parts of the world.

” … so most Christian political parties are run by Christians with Christian candidates. The CDP aims to glorify God through politics by standing candidates of faith. As Christians, it is imperative that when we vote we do so according to our biblical beliefs. We must grasp the fact that our government cannot save us. Only God can. The church continues to make a mistake if it thinks it is the job of secular politicians to defend, to advance, and to guard biblical truths and Christian values. Where we have a voice and can elect our leaders, we should exercise that right by voting for those whose views most closely parallel our Bible-based beliefs” (Greg Bondar & Brad Chilcott, 10 June 2016, “Should A Christian vote for a Christian party?” Bible Society Australia).

“Romney, while far from perfect, has got to win this election if we are going to have any hope of preserving biblical morality or the American dream. I never look for the best Christian to be President – I look for the one who best reflects a strong moral character, and who is most likely to preserve my rights as a Christian and freedom-loving American.” (Rebecca Hagelin [US Evangelist], 11 September 2012. “Can A Christian Vote for Non-Christian Candidate?” The Patriot Post)

“As a bishop it’s my obligation in fact, to urge the faithful to carry out their civic duty in accord with their Catholic faith. … You could never justify voting for a candidate who not only does not want to limit abortion but believes that it should be available to everyone. … Where there is unjust discrimination –for instance, where you say that a fellow human being, because of the color of his skin, is not a part of the same race as someone, say, who is a Caucasian, that is a kind of discrimination which is unjust and immoral, … there is a discrimination which is perfectly just and good, and that is the discrimination between what is right and what is wrong. Between what is according to our human nature and what is contrary to our human nature. So the Catholic Church, in teaching that sexual acts between persons of the same sex are intrinsically evil, are against nature itself, is simply announcing the truth, helping people to discriminate right from wrong in terms of their own activities.” (Archbishop Raymond Burke [Catholic], 28 October 2010, “Cardinal-designate Burke speaks about obligation to vote for truth.” Catholic News Agency)

“In an increasing number of cases, elections feature two major party candidates, neither of whom is in total agreement with the Church. Some say it is ‘throwing away your vote’ to choose an independent or third-party candidate whose position is consistent with Catholic teachings. But our obligation as Catholics is to vote for the person who reflects Catholic teaching.(American Life League Voter Guide [Catholic])

When Ahok consistently attacks the first interpretation believed by some Muslims in Indonesia should be considered as harsh. This is not to mention where he once also boastfully promoted himself in a sensitive term such as “proud kafir.” Ahok could have intensified his campaign to Muslims, a majority in Jakarta, who did not hold the first interpretation of the verse but instead he kept harshly attacking some groups of Muslims that believe the first interpretation of the verse. Ahok, and Ahok himself, not his campaign team, made open and harsh attack to this interpretation.

Another thing is, he has been creating racist public discourse and wild comments over time.

Ahok on Human Rights (24 July 2015): “Saya ingin 10 juta orang hidup, bila 2 ribu orang menentang saya dan membahayakan 10 juta orang, saya bunuh di depan Anda. … Supaya kamu tahu, saya punya pandangan. Itu saya. Saya nggak mau kompromi. Saya bunuh di depan Anda 2 ribu, depan TV, semua itu. Korbankan 2 ribu di atas 10 juta.” If I want 10 million people to live, while there were 2 thousand people against me and might threaten these 10 million people, I would kill these people in front of you all. … Just to show you, that is my principle. That’s me. I don’t want to compromise. I would kill in front of you those 2 thousand people, [even if it would be broadcasted] on TV, all. I would sacrifice 2 thousand over 10 million (Danu Damarjati, 22 August 2015, “Ham versi Ahok untuk Melindungi Rakyat Banyak”, detikNews)

Ahok on his Religion: “Sekali lagi saya bukan orang Kristen! Saya orang Indonesia yang beriman pada Kristus” I am not a Christian! I am just an Indonesian who believes in Christ (Sukma Alam, 24 April 2014, “Ahok: Sekali lagi, saya bukan orang Kristen!” Merdeka.com)

Ahok on God: “Saya mah nggak peduli. Kalo Tuhan ngaco juga gua lawan. Makanya Tuhan gak boleh ngaco. Kalo ngaco pasti bukan Tuhan. Sederhana bagi saya.” I don’t care. If God also makes mess, I would stand against God. That is why God cannot make mess. If He does so, wouldn’t He be God. It’s that simple (Edi Sumardi (ed.), 19 March 2016, “Rekaman Ahok berang, sebut kalo Tuhan ngaco juga gua lawan karena ini,” Tribun Timur)

Ahok on Protesters: “Kalau mereka anarkis, saya katakan akan saya lawan … Yang akan saya lakukan, saya bakar hidup-hidup mereka. Kalau [tindakan saya itu] melanggar HAM, masih ada proses pengadilan.” If they act violent behavior, I will fight them … What I will do, I will burn them alive. If it violates Human Rights, I can defend myself in the court (Dharmawan Sutanto, 14 October 2014, “Ahok ingin pinjam pistol buat tembak demonstran anarkis,” Merdeka). In another occasion, he said: “Water canon itu diisi bensin sekali-kali biar kebakaran. Ya kalau rusuh disemprot bensin kira-kira ia berteriak tobat [e]nggak?” Those water canons need to be filled with gasoline to burn those protesters. If they commit violence, just spray them with [gasoline to burn them] so they can stop (Putri Artika R. 25 September 2014. “Ahok usul water canon diisi bensin buat hadapi pendemo bayaran,” Merdeka).

Ahok on Christianity and Salvation: “Ajaran Kristen itu agak konyol, … kalau Islam itu lebih realistis” The teaching of Christianity [on salvation] is bit silly, … whilst Islamic teaching [on salvation] is more realistic (Seputar Nusantara (uploader), 16 November 2015, “Gubernur Ahok: Ajaran Kristen konyol dan menyesatkan, Islam lebih realistis,” YouTube)

Ahok on Sharia Law and The Punishment for Corruptors: “Cantumin aja hukum syariah berlaku aja kalau mau. Yang korupsi, asal pake hukum pembuktian terbalik ya, dipenggal, digantung, dicincang dua belas bila perlu.” You can declare that Sharia law is used in this country if you want to. Those corruptors, as long as shifting burden of proof is applied, must be decapitated, hanged, and then mutilated to twelve pieces if necessary (Jokowi Ahok (uploader),[8]20 December 2013, “Ahok: Saya setuju hukum Syariah Islam (Ahok: Penggal, Gantung, dan Potong Kepala Koruptor)

Recently it was reported that on 2 December 2016 there was another rally to protest that Ahok be seated before the law for the accusation of blasphemy. The rally was held peacefully, just like the one that happened on 4 November 2016. We all need to know that some incidents on the rally on 4 November 2016 were exaggerated by some members of the mass media. We need to know that the small riots following the rally on that day were not started by the protesters, as confirmed later on by BBC Indonesia.[9] They were started by the intruders and criminals who were using the rally to cover their intention to make chaos and/or commit burglary. From the report by BBC Indonesia about the 4 November 2016 protest, the violence to journalists on duty must also be seen by the previous incidents where journalists from some local mass media are believed to report any Muslim issue in negative tone, as it happened again in peaceful rally on 2 December 2016.[10]


A PHOTO WHERE ONE PROTESTER DECLARES WHAT THE RALLY ON 2 DECEMBER 2016 IS ALL ABOUT, AND WHAT IS NOT. Ahok is a Chinese … that’s not my concern.  Ahok is a Christian … that’s also not my concern.  Ahok is running for Jakarta’s Gubernatorial election … that’s also not my concern.  Ahok disrespects Ulema … that’s my concern.  Ahok insults Quran …. that’s surely my concern.

The protest held on 2 December 2016, which was attended by millions of Muslims, was peaceful and occurred without incident. However, it seems that some mass media instead focus on another issue that misses the essence of the rally, framing the rally more about hardline arrogant Muslims who are against a Christian Chinese governor and have coup d’état intentions. The essence of the proven peaceful rally, where the protesters want Ahok to be taken to the court for his joke on the interpretation held by some Muslim groups to endorse himself in an event has no place for political campaign and where he is considered violating the ethics in Indonesian politics to stay away from what others’ beliefs, has been lost behind those highlighted issues.

The accusation of the coup d’état plan of some mostly nationalist politicians – not Islamist politicians is on focus (well, actually one of them were taken by the authority because of insulting Jokowi and has nothing to do with coup d’etat while the other, who have no masses, were still under investigation on coup d’etat accusation). Ahok has been positioned in the mainstream media as a target simply because he is a Christian and the other accumulating contributing factors for the movement against him have been ignored. See these following examples:

It is clear that Ahok’s opponents are more opposed to his ethnicity and religion than to his policies. (Thomas Latschan, 18 November 2016, “Why Indonesian Islamists are Targeting Jakarta’s Christian Governor,” Deutsche Welle)

This is why resentment of Ahok specifically comes from the fact that, first, he is an Indonesian of Chinese descent, and second he is a Christian. (Lailatul Fitriyah, 15 October 2016, “Indonesian Muslim’s Religious Arrogance,” The Jakarta Post)

The rally on 2 December is reported to be conducted by radical and intolerant Indonesian Muslims, described by some journalists as conservative Muslims, while again, it is possible to see in the photos of Indonesian people’s Facebook accounts that moderate modern Muslim groups such as Muhammadiyah and some of Nadlothul Ulama’s members supported the rally (even PWNU Jakarta) and that Indonesian moderate right wing nationalists (if I may use this term), doctors and professionals, and celebrities also joined the rally. The protest was attended and supported by people from a variety of social backgrounds, even Chinese and Christian people also gathered also on that day for the rally against Ahok. However, in the mass media you will probably only see pictures of some the so-called radical Muslim leaders appearing in the rally, with the main narrative consistently voiced about the Indonesian Muslim protest against Ahok that it occurred just because he is Christian, or Chinese Christian.

It is also important to note that the number of the protesters is downsized to only, as some mass media reported, “tens of thousands.” The downsizing number of protesters has also manipulated the depiction of people power related to the protest. We all should know that the number is bigger as you can check on many Indonesian Facebook accounts for the photos and do the calculation using Google Earth (for example, MF Kasim estimates that the rally was attended by between 2 to 7 million people).[11]

In the time where Islamophobia industry is on the rise, the report about the protests against Ahok by Indonesian Muslims cannot escape from words such as: Christian Ahok, violent protest, hate speech rally, and or radical / intolerant / conservative Muslims.

“Indonesia: 200,000 protest Christian governor of Jakarta,” Kathy Quiano & James Griffiths, 2 December 2016, CNN

“Jakarta’s Christian Governor to face blasphemy trial over Islam insult claim: Case against Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama seen as test of Indonesia’s commitment to religious tolerance and pluralism,” Kate Lamb, 16 November 2016, The Guardian

Painting with the same brush to anti-Ahok protesters as a bunch of radical or intolerant Muslims is beneficial because it strengthens the established narrative on Muslims and or political Islam. We can learn this issue and relate it from how Iraq War was started through mass media framing.[12][13][14] The covering of how [conservative] Muslims are not compatible with the idea of tolerance in pluralistic society and modernity must be maintained. Thus, Ahok has to be the innocent one whilst the resistance against Ahok done by Muslims needs to be labeled as the evil one. It may also be beneficial, I may argue, in creating public consent for any policy directed towards Muslims in any country where it pours big money, either for foreign war policy or local surveillance and intervention policy on Muslim communities.[15][16][17]

Dipa Nugraha

The Chairman of Muhammadiyah Special Branch of Australia and New Zealand 2015 – 2017

(Muhammadiyah is the second largest Moderate  and Mainstream Muslim Organization in Indonesia)

A PhD Candidate in Cultural and Literary Studies – Monash University


[1] Megawati is the leader of PDIP (Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan – Indonesian Democratic Party for Struggle). She is also the fifth president of Indonesia. Her party supports Ahok in Jakarta’s gubernatorial election held next year. SBY, or Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, is the sixth president of Indonesia. He is the chairman of Democratic Party of Indonesia. His son, Agus Yudhoyono, is running for the next year’s gubernatorial election of Jakarta. Prabowo Subianto, chairman of Gerindra party who lost to Joko Widodo from PDIP in the previous presidential election with very small margin, has Anies Baswedan to support in the next campaign in Jakarta gubernatorial election. In the Jakarta gubernatorial election next year, Ahok, Agus and Anies are the only three names to compete.

[2] You can read also on Sindo Weekly (April 2016) about this feud, “Ahok Juga Manusia.”

[3] Salsabila Qurrataa’yun. 18 May 2016. “Warga Luar Batang Anggap Ahok seperti Anak Kecil”. OkeZone News.

[4] Ahmad Sakirin. 3 May 2016. Warga Luar Batang Demo di Balaikota, Demonstran: Tangkap Ahok.” Arah

[5] May 2016. “Pendemo Warga DKI Jakarta Membawa Spanduk Ganyang China. “ Babiat

[6] Karta Raharja Ucu. 16 September 2016. “Abah Alwi: Henk Ngantung Gubernur Non-Muslim, Tapi tak Kasar”. Republika

[7] 11 August 2012. “Henk Ngantung, Gubernur DKI Non-Muslim yang Mampu Merangkul Semua Pihak,” Suara Pembaruan

[8] This YouTuber is pro-Ahok

[9] Watch also the explanation on the riot happened after the rally on 4 November 2016 given by the police.

[10] The negative perception towards how mass media portrays Islam happens also in other countries, e.g. in the UK.

[11] Smaller number is given by Reza Lesmana where he calculates  the protesters were approximately 426 thousands people.

[12] Stephen D. Reese & Seth C. Lewis. 2009. “Framing the War on Terror: The Internalization of Policy in the US Press,” Journalism, Vol. 10(6): 777–797.

[13] See also, Michael Parenti. 2002. “Monopoly Media Manipulation,” Mediterranean Quarterly 2002, Volume 13, Number 2: 56-66.

[14] See also, Edward Said. 2 August 2003. “A Window on the World,” The Guardian.

[15] Arun Kundnani. 29 March 2014. “No NSA reform can fix the American Islamophobic complex.” The Guardian.

[16] Diana Ralph. 2006. “Islamophobia and the War On Terror: The Continuing Pretext for U.S. Imperial Conquest,” in Paul Zarembka (ed.) The Hidden History of 9-11-2001 (Research in Political Economy, Volume 23), pp.261-298.

[17] I plan to add some comment on the words “Jihad” & “Mujahid (or Jihadi[st])” used in the rally against Ahok for later revision-addition (or cancel it?). These words are also interesting in the narrative of Islamophobic industry and how they become “a highlighted potential issue in any Islamic movement” and “have always to be related with Islamic State or referenced to terror and violence.”

Another issue on “hate speech” as equal to “uncivilized” and “violence” is also interesting when it comes to Muslims (cf. Randa Abdel-Fattah, 12 Januari 2015, “The privelege to insult,” ABC – Opinion).


Walter Sparrow menjalani kehidupan delusional. Bisa jadi beberapa dari kita juga terperangkap pada situasi yang sama. Di dalam film The Number 23[i], Sparrow yang diperankan oleh Jim Carrey percaya bahwa novel yang dibelikan istrinya sebagai hadiah ulang tahunnya mengisahkan dan menujumkan tentang kisah hidupnya. Ia, pelan namun pasti, mulai menemukan hal-hal yang berada di sekelilingnya memiliki unsur angka 23.

Bisa jadi kita juga mengalami keadaan yang mirip, menjalani keyakinan yang senada, dan hidup dengan fantasi yang serupa. Misalnya saat kita mendapat angka 13. Kita mulai meracau dan bergolak di dalam benak bahwa kita bakal mengalami nasib yang sial. Mitos tentang angka 13 sebagai angka sial tak lepas dari mitos yang terbangun sejak 1700 SM dari tidak disebutnya angka 13 di dalam Codex Hammurabi kemudian dikokohkan dengan mitos yang timbul dari kisah tragis dari Perjamuan Terakhir: Yesus (p.b.u.h) dan 12 muridnya[ii],[iii][iv].

Lebih lanjut mengenai kisah angka 13 adalah pengkhususan kepada Jumat tanggal 13 sebagaimana budaya Barat memakunya sebagai hari sial. Jumat tanggal 13 dianggap sebagai hari sial dapat dirunut pada sejarah kekristenan. Pada hari Jumat tanggal 13 bulan Oktober 1307, raja Philip IV dari Perancis yang bermufakat dengan Paus Clement V mengeluarkan perintah penahanan Knights Templar – Para Ksatria Pelindung Yerusalem. Tuduhan yang dijatuhkan kepada ratusan anggota Knights Templar adalah bermacam-macam mulai dari bidah, sodomi, hingga penyalahgunaan kewenangan[v]. Ratusan anggota Knights Templar ini disiksa dan juga sebagian mati dibakar hidup-hidup[vi].

Fobia terhadap angka 13 berlanjut hingga sekarang. Seiring dengan diseminasi hegemoni budaya Barat lewat globalisasi, mitos tentang sial angka 13 ini menyebar ke seluruh dunia. Beberapa gedung di segala penjuru dunia tidak memiliki lantai 13 karena angka ini dianggap membawa sial[vii]. Meskipun demikian, di beberapa negara nampaknya ada pengecualian mengenai sial angka 13 juga Jumat tanggal 13.

Di Indonesia seluruh ‘paket elemen budaya’ Jumat tanggal 13 tidak seluruhnya diserap. Tidak terserapnya seluruh paket ‘keyakinan’ ini mungkin dikarenakan Indonesia sudah memiliki ‘takhayul’ sendiri mengenai hari yaitu (malam) Jumat Kliwon[viii]. Di China, mitos angka 13 tidak laku. China memiliki mitos tentang angka 4 sebagai angka sial. Di dalam budaya China, uniknya angka 13 justru menjadi angka aman. Walau demikian, terdapat fenomena serupa mengenai bangunan beringkat dan mitos angka sial sebagaimana terjadi di Barat. Beberapa gedung tinggi di China tidak memiliki lantai 4 dengan alasan yang sama: mitos mendatangkan sial[ix].

Kisah mengenai fobia terhadap angka 13 dan juga Jumat tanggal 13 di budaya Barat telah menjadi sebuah studi yang serius. Donald Dossey, ahli fobia terkenal, bahkan membuat kajian di Amerika Serikat mengenai paraskevidekatriaphobia atau friggatriskaidekaphobia. Dua istilah yang membuat malas ketik ulang ini adalah fobia yang berkenaan dengan ketakutan terhadap Jumat tanggal 13. Paraskevi adalah bahasa Yunani untuk Jumat sedangkan frigga adalah sebutan bagi dewa yang merujuk pada penamaan Friday (Jumat) dan dekatria atau triskaideka adalah angka 13.

Berdasar studi Dossey, ditemukan banyak sekali orang Amerika Serikat yang memiliki fobia terhadap Jumat tanggal 13. Angkanya sungguh mencengangkan. Di jaman modern ini masih terdapat 21 juta orang Amerika Serikat yang percaya takhayul sial di hari Jumat tanggal 13. ‘Kepercayaan’ ini bahkan sampai pada kondisi ekstreme. Berdasar temuan Dossey, banyak di antara warga Amerika Serikat membolos bekerja, tidak berani keluar membeli makanan, dan seterusnya dan seterusnya jika bertemu dengan Jumat tanggal 13[x],[xi].

Studi serius tentang takhayul Jumat tanggal 13 di dalam masyarakat modern tidak hanya dilakukan di Amerikat Serikat. Fenomena fobia Jumat tanggal 13 membuat empat orang praktisi-akademisi di bidang Public Health di UK mengadakan penelitian. Hasil penelitian mereka lalu diterbitkan di dalam British Medical Journal. Scanlon dan ketiga rekannya meneliti apakah ‘keyakinan’ mengenai Jumat tanggal 13 memiliki dampak buruk bagi kesehatan dan perilaku masyarakat UK. Paper mereka ini mereka beri judul “Is Friday the 13th bad for your health?[xii]. Rekomendasi dari temuan mereka adalah sungguh menarik, atau mungkin lucu, atau mungkin keduanya: pada hari Jumat tanggal 13 disarankan bagi warga UK untuk tetap tinggal di rumah.

Perkara angka memang bisa membuat runyam. Bukan hanya membuat orang menjadi irasional, angka juga bisa membuat kisruh di dalam urusan klaim-mengklaim. Mungkin ada keyakinan semu bahwa angka bersifat netral atau objektif. Atau dalam kasus serupa yang lain, angka dapat dipakai untuk menjustifikasi keberterimaan mayoritas di dalam sebuah klaim: angka yang terbanyak adalah yang benar.

Bicara mengenai klaim dengan angka maka tidak salah apabila kita menengok buku tulisan Darrell Huff, How to Lie with Statistics[xiii]. Di dalam bukunya ini, Huff seolah-olah menandaskan bagaimana klaim kebenaran lewat angka statistik adalah sebuah permainan distorsi realitas yang bisa berbahaya. Huff tidaklah tidak menulis buku itu tanpa argumen yang sahih sebab kemudian buku itu mendapatkan kesepadanan dengan tulisan Mark Twain yang ia nisbahkan kepada ucapan Perdana Menteri Inggris Benjamin Disraeli. Twain meriwayatkan bahwa ia kerap galau jika berhadapan dengan angka-angka. Twain kemudian mengutip ucapan Disraeli mengenai adanya tiga macam kebohongan: kebohongan [kecil], kebohongan sialan [besar], dan statistik [angka][xiv].

Kasus manipulasi angka yang kontroversial adalah kisah otak-atik angka hitung statistik di dalam The China Study. The China Study adalah hasil riset T. Colin Campbell di China mengenai imbas negatif konsumsi produk ternak (susu, daging) bagi kesehatan. Campbell menyimpulkan “lewat angka-angka statistiknya” bahwa penghindaran terhadap produk ternak adalah baik bagi kesehatan manusia[xv].

Kesimpulan yang ditelurkan oleh Campbell mendapatkan banyak sanggahan. Chris Masterjohn, Denise Minger, dan Loren Cordain menunjukkan bagaimana Campbell gegabah dan cenderung manipulatif di dalam membuat kesimpulan dari angka-angka yang dia temukan di lapangan. Tuduhan yang diberikan kepada Campbell -dan memang terbuktikan- adalah adanya manipulasi angka-angka statistik. Campbell juga disindir mengenai ketidakpresisian parameter asumsi yang ia pakai di dalam mengumpulkan angka-angka yang ia butuhkan di dalam membuktikan hipotesisnya[xvi],[xvii],[xviii].

Besarnya jumlah angka dukungan yang digunakan sebagai klaim sebuah kebenaran juga bisa bikin runyam. Mengenai hal ini, patut pula misalnya merujuk kepada ucapan Tariq Ramadan di dalam diskursus mengenai cita-cita muslim dalam menanggapi isu demokrasi dan hidup bersama di masyarakat Barat. Selintas, Tariq Ramadan seakan-akan sekuler namun sejatinya ia tidaklah demikian. Sebagai pendahuluan awal, layaklah mencermati perkataan Tariq mengenai refutasinya tentang kebenaran lewat pendapat dengan angka pendukung terbanyak.

Tariq tahu bahwa politik tidak bisa dilepaskan dari etika dan etika selalu terkait dengan agama[xix]. Di dalam tradisi suara (dengan angka) terbanyak diyakini sebagai sesuatu yang mempunyai jalur legal untuk disebut sebagai kebenaran, problem dapat timbul dan memang potensial untuk selalu muncul di dalam adaptasi setiap muslim. Tariq dalam posisi firm untuk menyatakan bahwa basis yang ia perjuangkan adalah nilai dan etika yang bersandar pada apa yang tertera di dalam skriptur dan bukan serta -merta ikut mengaminkan apa yang dipegang oleh kebanyakan orang: ‘kebenaran karena angka pendukung yang besar”. Juga perlu dipahami bahwa Tariq tidak lantas memencilkan diri atau mungkin berontak kepada kesepakatan yang dimenangkan oleh ‘pendapat dengan angka pendukung terbanyak’ jikasanya berbeda atau kontradiktori dengan skriptur. Pada keadaan seperti ini, Tariq belajar beradaptasi dengannya.

Juga menarik untuk mempelajari apa yang diajukan oleh Paul Treanor di dalam tulisannya “Why Democracy is Wrong”. Tulisan Paul ini boleh juga dijadikan referensi mengenai bagaimana keputusan dan cara pandang yang ‘terlalu’ menyandarkan kepada angka (suara) terbanyak adalah tragis. Mematok sesuatu sebagai baik berdasarkan angka terbanyak pendukung kadang menjerembabkan manusia untuk melacurkan kemanusiaannya[xx]. Di dalam prolog tulisannya, Paul memberikan contoh bagaimana sebuah negara urung mengirimkan bantuan kemanusiaan gara-gara ide pengiriman bantuan tidak mendapatkan angka terbanyak.

Angka (Credit: radiolab.org)

Angka (Credit: radiolab.org)

Klaim kebenaran berdasarkan superioritas manusia lewat jalur angka dukungan terbanyak adalah sesuatu yang sahih juga bermasalah sebab ia menjadi sesuatu yang sangat labil, begitu menurut Idries de Vries[xxi]. Ide pancang kebenaran lewat angka terbanyak adalah menggelisahkan. Kejadian terkini tentang ini terjadi di dalam denominasi kristen Presbyterian pada tafsir istilah perkawinan. Voting diadakan untuk meratifikasi definisi perkawinan yang ada di dalam skriptur. Hasilnya adalah sebuah definisi baru mengenai perkawinan: asalkan dua orang, meskipun sejenis, tetaplah sah secara skriptur untuk diberkati sebagai perkawinan[xxii].

Kepercayaan kepada angka dukungan terbesar sebagai benar sejatinya menjadi catatan kegelisahan masyarakat post-secular. Mengapa bisa demikian? Sebab di dalam konteks pembenaran sesuatu dilandasi dukungan angka yang terbesar maka hal apapun yang –bahkan berseberangan dengan skriptur dan old wisdom and values– adalah menjadi sah dan legit. Hal inilah yang direnungkan oleh Jurgen Habermas di dalam menyikapi kegamangan mengenai nilai apakah yang bisa dijadikan pegangan bagi kontestasi ide dalam demokrasi yang paling sekuler sekalipun, dalam sebuah masyarakat post-secular[xxiii].

Apapun, klaim menggunakan angka bisa sangat berbahaya – jika dimanipulasi, disalahgunakan, disalahpahamkan, atau disalahyakini. Menggiring awam menggunakan angka bisa berpotensi menimbulkan kerusakan sebab tidak semua paham tentang angka dan makna di balik suatu angka: survei dan statistik. Pun, menyalahgunakan banyaknya jumlah angka pendukung sebagai modal menekan mereka yang jumlah angka pendukungnya sedikit sebagaimana terjadi pada majoritarianisme juga sesuatu yang berbahaya.

Angka memang bisa dijadikan landasan membuat keputusan namun terkadang tidaklah pas untuk menyandarkan diri hanya kepada angka di dalam membuat keputusan. Ambil contoh, tidaklah pas misalnya mencari pertolongan dari Tuhan lewat mandi di tujuh mata air atau sumur di tengah malam oleh sebab pitulungan (Jw. = pertolongan) mempunyai bunyi sama dengan pitu (Jw. = tujuh). Ujung-ujungnya malah masuk angin. Atau bisa juga berkelakar bahwa pitulungan memang datang kemudian dalam bentuk kerokan.

Ambil contoh lain, tidaklah pas semisal membuat klaim bahwa pasti Tuhan sudah memberi tanda mengenai kemenangan sepasang kandidat capres dan cawapres gara-gara angka yang keluar dari sebuah pertandingan sepakbola pada hari pemungutan suara seakan-akan meramalkan demikian.

Sebagaimana diketahui bersama bahwa pemungutan suara pilpres 2014 di Indonesia barusan diselenggarakan pada tanggal 9 Juli 2014. Pada hari itu, angka hasil pertandingan Brasil melawan Jerman adalah 1-7. Beberapa orang misalnya mengaitkan dua hal tersebut sebagai sebuah tanda dari Tuhan. Ada yang menyebut bahwa angka 1-7 adalah tanda bahwa 7okow1, salah satu kandidat, akan memenangkan pilpres karena di dalam namanya ada angka 7 dan 1. Ada juga yang mengaitkannya dengan bakal menangnya kandidat nomor 1, atau Prabowo, karena diyakini bahwa presiden ke-7 Indonesia adalah yang berlabel urut 1. Juga ada yang mengaitkan angka 1-7 sebagai keniscayaan kemenangan Prabowo, salah satu kandidat, gara-gara 17 adalah tanggal kelahiran Prabowo dan lain sebagainya dan lain sebagainya.

Praktik yang demikian itu tidaklah tepat karena kemudian menjadikan seseorang terjerembab kepada takhayul. Bahkan semisal hasil nujuman lewat angka ini terbuktikan pun, adalah tidak pas memegangi keyakinan yang demikian. Ada drawbacks-nya.

Bagi sebagian agama, berpercaya membuat keputusan pada yang demikian adalah buruk: mencederai iman. Sejatinya ada pesan yang dalam mengenai berpantang mengikuti nujuman-nujuman seperti ini: biar bekerja dengan akal bukan mengkorelasikan sesuatu yang absurd, agar menjadi insan yang memakai akal di dalam membuat perhitungan tindakan. Menurut skriptur, bekerja keras memakai akal dalam mewujudkan sesuatu tentu tanpa melupakan doa adalah ciri khas manusia beriman. Atau dengan kata lain: tidak terjebak kepada numerologi sebagaimana kisah Walter Sparrow.

Sparrow terjebak di dalam keyakinannya mengenai angka. Saat ia mendapati bahwa satu angka kebetulan sesuai menujumkan sesuatu. Ketika Sparrow mempercayainya maka bencana pun mulai terjadi atas hidupnya. Ia hidup di dalam bayang-bayang angka 23. Kehidupan yang seperti ini sungguh bukanlah kehidupan manusia sesungguhnya. Sparrow lupa bahwa setiap angka bisa muncul kapan saja. Ia juga khilaf mendapati bahwa angka sama yang terus saja muncul dalam hidupnya adalah ‘realitas yang dibangunnya sendiri’ dengan mengesampingkan angka-angka lain yang keluar, yang berseliweran di sekitarnya dalam kehidupannya.

Lagian, balik lagi ke soal angka 13, bukankah di final Piala Dunia 2014 justru Jerman yang menampilkan pemain dengan nomor punggung 13-lah yang mengalahkan Argentina yang tidak memainkan pemain no 13-nya? Jangan lupa juga bahwa legenda Liga Inggris, pemain yang beruntung karena memiliki tendangan yang keras, kepala yang produktif, dan jumlah gol yang menjadi rekor Liga Inggris, Alan Shearer, juga seseorang yang lahir pada tanggal 13!


Creative Commons License Angka by Dipa Nugraha is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Bagian penutup tulisan mengenai hasil final Piala Dunia 2014 ditambahkan pada tanggal 2 Oktober 2014 (cf. FIFA. 13 Juli 2014. “Match Report”)

End Notes

[i] Joel Schumacher. 2007. The Number 23. USA: New Line Cinema

[ii] Julia Greenberg. 13 Januari 2012. Friday the 13th: History, Origins, Myths, and Superstitions of the Unlucky Day. Web. Diakses 11 Juli 2014 dari:


[iii] Claire Suddath. 13 Februari 2009. A Brief History of Friday the 13th. Web. Diakses 11 Juli 2014 dari:


[iv] Ciaran O’Keeffe. 13 September 2013. Friday the 13th: Where does our fear of this ‘unlucky’ day really come from?. Web. Diakses 11 Juli 2014 dari:


[v] Ciaran O’Keeffe, Ibid.

[vi] Stephen Howarth. 1982. The Knights Templar. New York: Barnes and Noble. hlm. 11-14, 261, 323.

[vii] Lihat endnote 3

[viii] Selintas mungkin ada kemiripan kata Jumat di dalam kedua mitos ini: mitos Barat dan mitos Indonesia. Jika kita kaji lebih jeli maka akan kita dapati perbedaan antara malam Jumat dengan hari Jumat. Pada malam Jumat, takhayul dimulai sejak Kamis malam dan berakhir pada Jumat subuh. Pada mitos Barat, konsep ‘hari sial’ dimulai pada hari Jumat dan bukan pada Kamis malam.

[ix] David Makofsky (ed. S. Forsyth). 2012. Bad Luck Numbers in China. Web. Diakses 11 Juli 2014 dari:


[x] David Emery. Why Friday the 13th Is Unlucky, Paraskevidekatriaphobia: Friday the 13th Origins, History, and Folklore. Web. Diakses 11 Juli 2014 dari:

http://urbanlegends.about.com/cs/historical/a/friday_the_13th.htm [xi] lihat endnote 2

[xii] Scanlon TJ et.al. 1993. Is Friday the 13th bad for your health?. BMJ. 1993 Dec 18-25;307(6919):1584-6

[xiii] Darrell Huff. 1954. How to Lie with Statistics. New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc.

[xiv] Mark Twain (ed. Michael J. Kiskis). 1990. Mark Twain’s Own Autobiography: The Chapters from The North American Review (Wisconsin Studies in American Autobiography). Madison, Wis: University of Wisconsin Press.

[xv] T. Colin Campbell (with Thomas M. Campbell II). 2004. The China Study: Stratling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long-term Health. Dallas: BenBella Books.

[xvi] Chris Masterjohn. n.d. The Truth about The China Study. Web. Diakses 11 Juli 2014 dari:


[xvii] Denise Minger. 7 Juli 2010. The China Study: Fact or Fallacy?. Web. Diakses 11 Juli 2014 dari:


[xviii] Loren Cordain (dalam Chris Kresser). n.d. Rest in peace, China Study. Web. Diakses 11 Juli 2014 dari:


[xix] Tariq Ramadan, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Anas Altikriti, Alan Johnson (intv. Mehdi Hasan). 3 April 2014 (transkrip). Head to Head – Has political Islam failed?. Web. Diakses 11 Juli 2014 dari:


[xx] Paul Treanor. 13 Mei 2006. Why Democracy is Wrong. Web. Diakses dari:


[xxi] Idries de Vries. 27 Februari 2012. A Critique of Natural Law Theory. Web. Diakses 11 Juli 2014 dari:


[xxii] Gene Veith. 20 Juni 2014. “Presbyterians (USA) vote to allow gay marriages”. Web. Diakses dari:


[xxiii] Jurgen Habermas. 18 Juni 2008. Notes on a post-secular society Pertama terbit di Jerman dalam Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik, April 2008 dan awalnya ditulis sebagai materi kuliah tanggal 15 Maret 2007 di the Nexus Institute of the University of Tilberg, Netherlands. Web. Diakses dari: