2006 Fellowship: Religion a Force for Change in Southeast Asia

fc2006With more than 500 million people inhabiting tens of thousands of islands and speaking hundreds of native languages, ethnic and religious diversity have always been sources of strength and cultural wealth in the 11 countries that comprise Southeast Asia (including East Timor).

As with any other corner of the world, however, intolerance, misunderstanding, and even pressures of rapid development and globalization can also harm and upset the very diversity that makes Southeast Asia a rich region. Ethnic and religious diversity can be a source of stability as well as instability, a teacher of tolerance or intolerance, a provider of security or insecurity. As with any other region, after all, in Southeast Asia there are majorities and there are minorities. There are stereotypes and there are realities.

In this year’s Journalism Fellowship, the topic of religion is not all about strife or violence or sadness and hurt. Religion, and religious diversity, still and also primarily bring up stories of inspiration, tolerance, and the best attributes of humanity. Religion continues to be one of the most powerful forces for positive change in Southeast Asia.

The 2006 Fellows

Allen V. Estabillo writes for Mindanews, an online news agency run as a cooperative by journalists in the Philippines southern provinces.

Articles: Hindu Temples Under SiegeThe (Religious) Minorities’ Retort

Germelina A. Lacorte is a reporter of Davaotoday.com, an online newspaper in the Southern Philippine city of Davao, and a correspondent of the Manila-based Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Article: Are the Spirits Angry?

Iwan Setiawan is a TV new producer of SCTV in Jakarta.

Article: Among the Believers

Khan Sophirom is a reporter from Rasmei Kampuchea, the biggest newspaper in Cambodia.

Articles: Of Bars, Blessings, and Buddhist YouthsThe Abbot Is an Alien

Liezel Longboan is a freelance writer from the Philippines. She contributes to the Women’s Features Service.

Articles: Educating AyuMuslimahs Speak Up

Montri U-Domphong is a reporter from iTV, a private television station in Bangkok.

Article: Who’s Afraid of Pesantrens?

Mutjaba Hamdi is a writer from Syir’ah, a monthly Muslim magazine in Jakarta that promotes religious openness and diversity.

Articles: Lessons from HistoryLiving IslamFaith, Hope, and the Charter

Myo Zaw is an editor of Beauty Magazine in Rangoon.

Articles: Hindus Against Anti-Porn BillIslam’s Many Youthful Voices

Philip S. Golingai is a staffmember of The Star in Kuala Lumpur.

Articles: Coming Through SlaughterThe Hunter of PosoWhen They Didn’t Turn the Other Cheek

Wahyuana is a freelance journalist based in Jakarta. He contributes to the Jakarta Post.

Articles: Alms and the MonksThe Burmese Way to Buddhism