Pelangi di Timur Tengah (Rainbow over the Middle East’s Sky) by Denty Piawai Nastitie

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“Pelangi di Timur Tengah” (Rainbow over the Middle East’s Sky)
A photobook by: Denty Piawai Nastitie

In December 2015, I traveled to the four countries of the Middle East: Egypt, Israel, Palestine, and Jordan. Even though it was a few years ago, I still can vividly remember the journey.

Before I traveled to the Middle East, I assumed it was a region that prone to conflict and was full of sadness and suffering. Yet, when I visited the country, I saw a whole different reality. I saw people who live in diversity and who have high tolerance toward each other.

In Egypt, the Muslim highly appreciates the church. To them, a church is not merely a place to pray but a place that holds value and history which needs to be well preserved. It is no wonder that you will see a lot of Muslim women in burka inside the church.

In Palestine and Israel, the diversity and the tolerance of the Middle East is increasingly felt. As we know it, Jerusalem is a sacred region for three divine religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Both Israeli and Palestinian seen Jerusalem as their nation’s capital. In Via Dolorosa, or the path of suffering, in which Jesus went through before being crucified, the diversity is strongly felt.

The path is surrounded by the Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Armenian residences.
Every Friday, a lot of Christian is passing through the Muslim residence in the path of suffering to do the ritual of “Jalan Salib” in Via Dolorosa. After that, they will pray in the Church of The Holy Sepulchre. The next day, every Saturday, the Jewish pray in The Western Wall. Every day, the Muslim is praying in Al-Aqsa Mosque. All those three sacred places, Church of The Holy Sepulchre, The Western Wall, and Al-aqsa Mosque are located near to each other and can be reached by walking distance.

In Bethlehem, the west side of Palestine, I witnessed how the citizen celebrates Christmas as a big festival to erase the differences. Children were wearing Santa Claus costume. The Palestinian police officer is spreading the Christmas gift. In Manger Square, people gathered to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Even Mahmoud Abbas, as the President of Palestine, attended the Christmas mass.

The journey to the Middle East for two weeks with my family, had somehow open my eyes about the conflict, the diversity, and the tolerance, of the society there.

Two years after the journey, all the writing and the photos were only compiled in my computer. Until lately, the memory of my Middle East journey circling inside of my head. Especially these days when conflict and discordance in Indonesia is happening under the name of religion. The religious differences are often used as the face of the conflict which happens because of a whole other different reason, such as economy or politics.

If harmony can be found in Jerusalem which is the center for three divine religions, then why in the other part of the world is people fighting with each other because of religion differences? When I express this opinion to BO ( the Director of Galeri Foto Jurnalistik Antara, Oscar Motuloh), he said, “All this insecurity emerges because there is a deep longing for peace and tolerance in Indonesia, like it used to be.”

“Pelangi di Timur Tengah” is launched because of that reason, the longing of peace and tolerance. Pelangi (red, rainbow) is a spectrum of colors which emerges in the horizon after the rain. Pelangi is like a manifestation to the human diversity. Its beauty depends on the perception of the beholder. The question is, do we perceive diversity the way we perceive the rainbow – as a beauty, as a trite, or perhaps as just the dark cloud in the horizon?

Jakarta, 16 November 2017.
Denty Piawai Nastitie

Photographer and Author:
Denty Piawai Nastitie

ISBN: 978-602-50786-3-7

Curator:
Oscar Motuloh

Editor:
Agnes Theodora Wolkh Wogunu

Translator:
Presti Nataya, Margareth Aritonang

Graphic Designer:
Andi Ari Setiadi

Publisher: Gueari Galeri

© 2017 Denty Piawai Nastitie

All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or in any means – by electronic, mechanical, photocopying, or otherwise – without prior written permission.

First Printing, Jakarta, 16 November 2017

 

Additional information

Weight 350 g
Dimensions 25 x 23 x 3 cm

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