Australian frames in Indonesian minds: the contested Australian image among Indonesian Muslims on salient Australian issues in Indonesia
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 14:08 authored by Twediana Budi Hapsari
The relations between the neighbors Indonesia and Australia have become interesting over the last several decades. The ‘up and down’ tension between these countries, is influenced not only by their governments, but also by their citizens’ perceptions, about the other country. Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world; with 87% of Indonesian (around 202 millions) being Muslims.As the largest religious groupin Indonesia, Indonesian Muslims play significant roles in shaping public opinion within society. Since the Bali Bombing in 2002, there has been intense attention devoted to Australia and Indonesian Muslim issues. The cattle slaughter in 2010, the clemency given by Indonesian President to Corby (Australian prisoner in Indonesia) in 2012, and the tapping of the Indonesian First Lady’s phone in 2013 are a few examples of issues that have raised the attention of Indonesian Muslim audiences to Australia. Taufik Abdullah (2013) categorises Indonesian Muslims based on their attitudes and behavior related to the degree of tolerance to others. His three types are militant, moderate and liberal Muslims. This study investigates how members of groups within these three Indonesian Muslim types framed Australian issues. It further explores whether there are any distinctively different frames among them. This research applies second-level agenda setting theory by McCombs (2005) that examined both media and audience frames related to Australian issues. To obtain detailed attribution of media content, this research gathered data from all news within 2011 to 2013 from four Muslim group’s websites (Arrahmah, Hizbut-Tahrir Indonesia, NUonline, Dakwatuna) and one general Muslim media online (Republika) that mentioned Australia. Meanwhile, audience frames were gathered from in‐depth interviews with 28 leaders and followers drawn from militant, moderate andliberal Muslim backgrounds. This research found that there are general frames of Australia that are mentioned by informants: Australia’s generosity with scholarships and its outstanding educational system, its multiculturalism, its interference in Indonesia’s internal matters, its alliance with the US and its imbalanced relationship with Indonesia. The general frames have developed over a long time period (for example the scholarship awards started with the Colombo Plan initiatives in 1963) and from the assumption of several conflicting events between Australia and Indonesia (for example, the Australian interventionist frame was shaped from the time of the East Timorese independence struggle, the Bali Bombing 1 and2, and West Papua issues). Generally, there is no broad dissimilarity of Australian frames in the minds of members of different Muslim group backgrounds. However, when it comes to specific issues, interviews from each Muslim background showed different concerns about issues. Militant Muslim informants focused on anti-‐terrorism issue, while moderate Muslims were interested in the existence of Islamic values in Australia, and liberal Muslims concentrate on pluralism, human rights, as well as gender equality standards. The significant factor that influences the audience-framing process is the informants’ prior experience of Australia. General frames, media driven frames as well as peer group frames greatly influence ‘inexperienced informants’.‘ Mediated-experience informants’ tend to have more opinions and assumptions than facts when they evaluate Australia. Meanwhile,‘direct-experience informants’ constructed their frames on facts based on their direct experiences. Other factors like relevance, prior knowledge of the issue, group leader opinion and media frames also bore influence on a variety of issues. Finally, by linking the informants’ ideological backgrounds and experiences with Australia, this study found seven different models of Indonesian Muslim audiences and how they perceive Australia. These models are: 1) militant Muslims with no experience and 2) militant Muslims with mediated experience, 3) moderate Muslims with no experience, 4) moderate Muslims with mediated experience, 5) moderate Muslims with direct experience, 6) liberal Muslims with mediated experience, and 7) liberal Muslims with direct experience. Each of these has generated a variety of frames for Australia, especially when linked to relevant and important issues.