[#1] #SaveMaryam – A KONY 2012 type campaign, misleading and very insulting to Indonesian Muslims

#SaveMaryam – A KONY 2012 type campaign, misleading and very insulting to Indonesian Muslims
By Maulana M. Syuhada
25th July 2012 / 6th Ramadan 1433 H

#SaveMaryam is exploiting Indonesia by creating bombastic video using manipulative facts and figures in order to achieve their donations ambition of $ 2,000,000. It seems this KONY 2012 type video is a new way of gathering money from all over the world.

On 21st July 2012 Mercy Mission (UK registered charity) launched a project called, #SaveMaryam. They are spreading the video titled “Save Maryam” via youtube and encouraging people to donate their money to them. They try to get this video viral on the internet and target a total donation of $2,000,000.

Watch the video on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6E9NcbVa4FU

After watching the video, I was shocked and angry. The video is very patronizing, yet insulting to Muslims in Indonesia. They use manipulative figures and inaccurate facts, depicting Indonesia as ignorant and hopeless nation.

  • They claim that 2 millions Indonesian Muslims are converted to Christianity every year, and by 2035 Christians will take over Muslims in Indonesia.

This is nonsense! (see APPENDIX at the bottom of this note)

They claim in the video this is the statistics from International Crisis Group 2012. In fact if you freeze the video at minute 0:36, you could see how they made up the letter. The letter head is “International Crisis Group”, but if you see the date on the top left of the letter (below “Public Briefing”), it’s written Jakarta/Brussels, 24 November 2012”. Yes, it’s 2012! How a letter could be produced for a meeting that is taking place in the future (November 2012)?

  • They say,  “Maryam symbolise a whole generation of Indonesians today.”
  • And on their website they further add:

“Young Indonesians have yet to discover the beauty and the essence of Islam that strengthens us Muslims worldwide. Thus Maryam is the voice of every young Muslim in Indonesia that is struggling with the pressures of contemporary life, does not know Islam more than the name they were born with and finds solace only in a growing voice of Christianity.”

Source: http://www.mercymissionworld.org/blog/2012/07/21/save-maryam-campaign-launched/

The reality on the ground is far from what are depicted in the video. Islam has prospered in Indonesia for centuries and has strong root in the society. In contrast to Suharto era (1966 – 1998) where Islamic activities were oppressed, since reformation took place in 1998 people have full freedom of expression, and Indonesians are enjoying the full freedom of practising their religion. Since then Islamic activities have significantly increased. Islam has prospered even further and is so accessible to people from all walks of life through all medium, radio, TV, magazine, newspaper, internet, etc. Islamic programs are broadcasted every morning in many major TV and radio channels, whether in the form of lecture, speech, questions and answers, etc., Islamic series and movies are now booming and becoming national trend. Not to mention during Ramadhan TV channels are showered by Islamic programs.

Unlike in 70s and 80s where only few women wearing hijab and they are seen as old-fashioned, nowadays hijab is the trend of women fashion in Indonesia. Indonesian Muslims have influenced the evolution of hijab, so teenagers feel they can still look stylish and modern when wearing hijab. Hijab industry is booming in Indonesia.

In the past we were facing dilemma to choose between a standard curriculum (with only two hours/week of Islamic lesson) and a complete Islamic curriculum, which was mainly only available through traditional Islamic boarding school (pesantren). Those who wanted to gain both knowledge, they had to go to normal school in the morning and Madrasa in the afternoon. Nowadays, Islamic schools that integrate Islamic lessons to their curriculums have been growing rapidly. Not only at secondary and primary schools level, but also as early as nursery school (kindergarten). This very short paragraph is just a glimpse of how Islam has prospered in Indonesia in the last decade.

Yes, there are missionaries in Indonesia (as in every country in the world) who try to convert vulnerable people, but not in that dramatic scale as depicted in the video. They are not new; they have been in Indonesia for decades, even centuries if we start back to the colonial era when Christianity first entered Indonesia in the 17th century. Indonesians are a tight-knit community and well-known for looking-after and helping each other. Also religion is a very sensitive issue in Indonesia, let alone conversion. There’s no way two Millions Muslims converted to Christianity every year. It’s simply nonsense!

Youtube Comments

SaveMaryam video has misled the perception of many people abroad about Indonesia. This is reflected on the comments that people made on youtube. I quote some of the them below:

“No wonder why indonesia got tsunami from Allah, anyways I believed the video and donate 24 dollar, I just hope it’s not a scam, because all around the world nowadays every where I see christian converting to islam, even 2 of my close friends converted to islam from Christianity in New York USA.”

“Indonesia is really a troubled country. They have problem attitude, high poverty rate, and they are confused about their self. Yet, they still argue with their brother, Malaysia. I am also a Malaysian, and I will help to share this mission.”

“The Indonesian schools and universities should invite Dr Zakir Naik or Sjeikh Yusuf Estes and such.“

“So please, let the youngsters in school study Islam! ASAP! The schools would be the perfect tool for this!”

“We should go to Saudi Arabia I’m pretty sure they’ll do something about this.”

“May Allah help our brothers and sisters in Indonesia, ameen ^^ This is really ironic though, in Indonesia people are getting out of Islam and here where I live in EU people are coming into Islam =)”

All those comments above are very insulting. #SaveMaryam has been successfully depicting Indonesia as a helpless nation. People thought we are ignorant people that we can’t even get Islam education at school, and we need scholars from abroad to teach Islam in Indonesia and save the nation.

New Way of Gathering Money

After watching this video, I have every reason to be suspicious that #SaveMaryam is exploiting Indonesia by creating bombastic video using manipulative facts and figures (so their video can go viral on the internet) in order to achieve their donations ambition ($ 2,000,000).

If you go to their website, http://savemaryam.com, you are bombarded by three slogans WATCH, SHARE, and DONATE! It seems this KONY 2012 type video is a new way of gathering money from all over the world.

To #SaveMaryam

I demand you to withdraw the video and stop spreading this lies before we report this to the Indonesian authorities and police.

If you want to gather donation, use legal and “Halal” way. If you want to do Dakwah in Indonesia, use “Ahsan” method (good and wise). Learn the culture, invite local people, local Ulama (scholars), and cooperate with many established Islamic bodies. NOT CREATING bombastic and manipulative video and broadcast it all over the world!

Let take this hypothetical example! Imagine if an Indonesian registered charity comes to Pakistan, and is exposing to the world that two Millions Pakistani Muslims are converting to Christianity every year. This Indonesian charity is also creating a viral video about how hopeless Pakistan as a country that by the end of 2035 Christians will take over Muslims, and appeal for $ 2,000,000 donation to create TV station and helpline in Pakistan. Save Islam! Save Pakistan! Save Maryam!

Wouldn’t be the Pakistani people angry with this Indonesian charity?

In the end of the day, Indonesia has a strong Islamic root and tradition. We don’t need A RAMBO style organisation from abroad to save Indonesia!

#SaveMaryam is not only insulting Indonesian Muslims but also triggering a potential conflict between Muslims and Christians. People from all five religions in Indonesia have been coexisting and living side by side in harmony for centuries. Indonesia is a huge country with over 17,000 islands (covering three different time zones) and more than 300 ethnics and over 700 different languages. Some tension and incidents might happen sometimes but they are mainly minor and isolated cases, and we are working hard to preserve our tolerant culture and community spirit of togetherness.





On 25 July 2012 #SaveMaryam published a press release clarifying how they get 2 millions figure. As a response to their press release on 28 July 2012, I published a note, “Understanding #SaveMaryam’s Press Release – Incompetent or Dishonest? (or both)”.

You can read the note on this link: http://www.facebook.com/notes/maulana-m-syuhada/understanding-savemaryams-press-release-incompetent-or-dishonest-or-both/10151135442177238



Indonesian Population by Religion

(according to 2000 and 2010 National Census)

1. Indonesian Population in 2000 (1,2,3)

Islam           = 177,528,772 (88.22%)

Protestant  = 11,820,075 (5.87%)

Catholic      = 6,134,902 (3.05%)

Hindu          = 3,651,939 (1.81%)

Buddha       = 1,694,682 (0.84%)

Others        = 411,629 (0.20%)

Total           = 201,241,999 (100%)

2. Indonesian Population in 2010 (2,4)

Islam               = 207,176,162 (87.18%)

Protestant      = 16,528,513 (6.96%)

Catholic          = 6,907,873 (2.91%)

Hindu              = 4,012,116 (1.69%)

Buddha           = 1,703,254 (0.72%)

Konghucu       = 117,091 (0.05%)

Others            = 299,617 (0.13%)

Not Answered = 139,582 (0.06%)

Not Asked       = 757,118 (0.32%)

Total                = 237,641,326 (100%)

3. Average Annual Increase (2000 – 2010)

Total          = (237,641,326 – 201,241,999) / 10 = 3,639,933

Muslim       = (207,176,162 – 177,528,772) / 10 =  2,964,739

Protestant = (16,528,513 – 11,820,075) / 10 =  470,844

Catholic      = (6,907,873 – 6,134,902) / 10 =  77,297

Christian (Catholic + Protestan) = (23,436,386 – 17,954,977) / 10 =  548,141

From 2000 to 2010 total Indonesian population had increased by 3,639,933 per year.

– Muslim population had increased by 2,964,739 per year.

– Christian population had increased by 548,141 per year.

If total Christian population only increased by 548,141 per year how could 2,000,000 Muslims converted to Christian per year???

And of that 548,141, the biggest percentage is certainly due to natural growth (birthrate). So, the annual increase due to conversion from other religion is even smaller.

So, SaveMaryam’s claim that 2 Millions Indonesian Muslims are converted to Christianity every year is simply A LIE!

If you dare to exaggerate the exact facts, how could we believe that you don’t exaggerate the other facts?


  1. Cholil, Suhadi; Bagir, Zainal Abidin; Rahayu, Mustaghfiroh; Asyhari, Budi (Aug 2010), Annual Report on Religious Life in Indonesia 2009, Max M. Richter, Ivana Prazic, Yogyakarta, Indonesia: Center for Religious & Cross-cultural Studies, Gadjah Mada University, p. 15, ISBN 978-602-96257-1-4, retrieved 27 July 2012. (http://www.scribd.com/doc/57969737/Laporan-Tahunan-Kehidupan-Beragama-Di-Indonesia-2009-1)
  2. http://www.scribd.com/doc/87158830/Penduduk-Dan-Agama-Di-Indonesia-2010
  3.   Demographic Yearbook (New York: United Nations) 2b – Ethnocultural characteristics, 30 June 2006, ISSN 0082-8041, OCLC 173373970. Retrieved 27 July 2012. (http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/products/dyb/dybcens.htm)
  4.  “Penduduk Menurut Wilayah dan Agama yang Dianut [Population by Region and Religion]”. Sensus Penduduk 2010. Jakarta, Indonesia: Badan Pusat Statistik. 15 May 2010. Retrieved 27 July 2012.  (http://sp2010.bps.go.id/index.php/site/tabel?search-tabel=Penduduk+Menurut+Kelompok+Umur+dan+Agama+yang+Dianut&tid=320&search-wilayah=Indonesia&wid=0000000000&lang=id)
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