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Controversy over Student Protests By: Z
In big cities with many universities, student protests are very familiar. Almost every day we watch students standing on the main street expressing their opinion in opposing policies or responding emerging problems that mostly addressed to the government in this country. Some people accept these protests as one consequence of being a democratic country, in which, they thought that the students have certain power to monitor or remind the government to keep their policy on the right track, whilst some others feel annoyed by the street protesters. For decades, student movements in all over the world have proved their political roles in against the ruling powers. Since the medieval era (French revolution, industrial revolution in Britain, etc.) up to the 1900’s (Cuban revolution, Iranian revolution, etc.), and the latest ones, Tunisian and Egyptian revolution, mass protests involved students as the core of movement to dethrone tyrannies in where people power prevailed. In Indonesian history, students have also played an invaluable factor in several occurrences. From the era of the revival of the youth led by Budi Utomo, independence war, 66’s affairs, up to the reformation era, Indonesian students have proved their power as an important part that should be looked seriously. In general, we can say that students have two responsibilities regarding with people’s social life, i.e. “the agent of change”, and “social control”. Both implicitly describe that one of student’s obligations is watching every policy enacted by the government which directly impacted the life of many people, especially the poor ones. According to the students, protest is a part of student movement. Instead of using formal ways such as go to government offices and discussing the problem, which is ineffective, they prefer channeling people’s aspirations through protests. The only way is through street protest, socalled street parliament. Moreover, the students thought that they should be aware of their social responsibilities, considering that their universities, including their education process in campus, funded not only by their parents, but also from taxes collected from all citizens, even the poor citizens. Thus, students inherit the people’s aspiration, which is laid in their hand. Among Muslim scholars (Ulema), this issue has become especially contentious. Some said that Islamic rules forbid us to protest the ruling power, for such opposing action like this is considered as a form of “disobeying the legitimate governance”. Therefore, they said, any protest should be prevented. These situations were happened in some parts of the Middle East countries where revolution took place. While on the other parts, some prominent religious leaders opposed the idea of forbidding protest, as long as it is still in line with Islamic values. For example, in the beginning of this year in Egypt, where student protests were fully supported by religious leaders and Islamic organizations, one of them is the Ikhwanul Muslimin. Other example was Iranian revolution where their highest Ulema, Imam Khomaini, straightly asked the students to oppose the tyranny. They argue that every tyranny that led to suffering people should be resisted, no matter what. The student protests should be judged wisely in objective way. Though sometimes street protesters are annoying us as the street users, we should realize that protest is a “reaction” of an “action”. Protest existed as a form of resistance to the misplaced policies that cause suffering people, at least in the view of the students. Every protest bring message to those who they protest, predominantly the government, that students are always there to keep an eye on them, and to remind them, that they are there standing together to support the people, striving for the good values and bringing justice for all humanity.