When facts and faith are intertwined
January-March 2018
By: Devina Heriyanto

An often-cited study finds that Indonesia is the second-least literate among 61 countries surveyed. Almost all Indonesians can read and the population receives at least nine years of education, but schools do not teach critical thinking. As Indonesians get more of their so-called news via social media – the country is big on Facebook and Twitter – it’s very easy to provoke hatred and spread fake news.

Growing religious intolerance makes people overlook the crucial difference between what is fake and what is fact. Facts, according to many, don’t depend on how the information stands up when examined using journalistic standards. They depend on who writes and publishes the information, and who reads it. When facts do not suit one’s beliefs, then they must not be the truth. The question, “Miss, are you a Muslim?” did not come from curiosity, but caution. Faith and identity decide the credibility of the news, regardless of the facts.

Devina Heriyanto is a Jakarta-based journalist.

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