IT is clear that Islamist elements are increasing their influence in Australia’s biggest neighbouring country, Indonesia. Tomorrow, two young men convicted of homosexuality will be caned in front of a crowd in the Indonesian city of Banda Aceh.
The men, aged 23 and 20, were caught together when a vigilante mob broke into their home and beat them before dragging them to the local sharia police facility.
In a distressing video of the incident, the terrified men are physically and verbally abused by the enraged intruders even as they beg for mercy.
IT’S pretty easy to wind up being publicly caned by authorities in a province on the northern tip of Indonesia’s Sumatra island.
Canings in the region of Aceh are typically conducted using a thin, rattan cane in front of huge crowds outside mosques.
It’s a punishment for gambling, drinking alcohol, women who wear tight clothes and men who skip Friday prayers. Young, unmarried adults are commonly sentenced to lashings for standing in proximity to someone of the opposite sex. And the casting net has now been widened.
What’s most disturbing is that the judges’ decision is a capitulation not only to Islamic law but to the demands of the mob.
The outgoing governor of Jakarta, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, has been sentenced to two years in prison. His crime wasn’t corruption or bribery. It was “insulting the Quran.” This is a bad sign for Indonesia’s democracy, and an ominous warning for Christians in Indonesia.
Ahok, the Christian incumbent, was up for re-election against a Muslim candidate when charges were brought against him. Ahok’s purported crime of insulting the Quran happened during a speech he gave to the Thousand Islands regency in September 2016. In that speech, he said voters were being deceived into thinking the Quran prohibits Muslims from voting for a non-Muslim politician.
Moderate Muslim leaders and human rights groups have renewed calls to scrap Indonesia’s 1965 blasphemy law following last week’s conviction and imprisonment of ethnic-Chinese Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Purnama for his controversial reference to a verse in the Koran.
The growing use of the law, enshrined in Indonesia’s Criminal Code, inhibits free speech and has marginalized Christians, minority sect Muslims and other groups in a country whose secular Constitution clearly protects religious freedom.
In the two decades since the fall of Indonesian President Suharto’s 32-year reign in 1998, the use of the accusation of “treason” as a governmental tool to quash political opposition gradually reemerged in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.
Today, however, those trying to overthrow the leadership are Islamists intent on unraveling the fabric of a pluralistic society.
This situation has led to the debate over freedom of speech and the separation of church and state — or, here, mosque and state.
Jakarta’s Christian governor was jailed for two years Tuesday after being found guilty of committing blasphemy, capping a saga seen as a test of religious tolerance in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation.
Presiding judge Dwiarso Budi Santiarto told the Jakarta court that Basuki Tjahaja Purnama was “convincingly guilty of committing blasphemy and is sentenced to two years in prison”.
He ordered Purnama, known by his nickname Ahok, to be detained. Purnama said: “We will file an appeal.” Islamic hardliners outside the court cheered as news of verdict emerged and shouted “God is greatest”.
The activities of Hizbut Tahrir were not in line with the pluralistic state ideology in Muslim-majority Indonesia, the nation’s top security minister said on Monday.
“After careful consideration, the government deems it necessary to take legal action to disband [the group] throughout Indonesia,” said Chief Security Minister Wiranto.Hizbut Tahrir wants to unite all Muslims in a global caliphate under Sharia law, but the movement insists it only uses non-violent means.
Accompanied by a 1,500-strong entourage, Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz arrived in Indonesia on March 1 for a nine-day gala tour. He was welcomed warmly not only as the monarch of one of the world’s richest countries, but as the custodian of Islam’s two holiest cities, Mecca and Medina.
While appearing to be taking a holiday rather than embarking on an official state visit — the 81-year-old sovereign spent six days at a resort in Bali — the king had some serious business to attend to. In what was advertised as an effort to promote “social interaction” between Saudi Arabia and Indonesia — with His Majesty announcing a billion-dollar aid package, unlimited flights between the two countries and the allotment of 50,000 extra spots per year for Indonesian pilgrims to make the hajj to Mecca and Medina – it seems as if the real purpose of the trip was to promote and enhance Salafism, an extremist Sunni strain, in the world’s largest Muslim country, frequently hailed in the West as an example of a moderate Islamic society.
Muslims launched an unprovoked attack on a church in Indonesia because their cult demands acts of psychopathic violence as a “religious” duty.
Several hundred protesters from a group called Forum for Bekasi Muslim Friendship staged a rowdy demonstration in front of the Santa Clara church in Kaliabang, a neighborhood of Bekasi city, after Friday prayers.
Witnesses said police fired tear gas as the protesters tried to force their way into the church, which has been under construction since November. Some also threw rocks and bottles into the site.
Raymundus Sianipar, a Catholic priest, said police asked him to leave the area for safety reasons.
Muslim-majority Indonesia recognizes six religions, but militant Islamic groups frequently protest against the minority faiths and police often do not intervene. Members of minority religions that aren’t recognized by the state face persistent discrimination.
My kampong [village] lies in the suburbs of Surabaya, the second biggest city in Indonesia. Densely packed in a narrow alley, it consists of more than forty houses, stacked like logs, with no gaps at all to sneak in between. A handful of residents work for the government or public schools; some run small household shops. Most residents are Muslim, except for three families who are Christian.
A handful of plants provide us with green, but just down the road scattered stores have been soaring: a big franchise department store, a gas station, banks with long rows of automatic teller machines and facilities that make us feel like a small part of growing Indonesia.
When we first moved here, it seemed ideal. There were only twelve families; they got together at events; we felt close. Communal meetings were held each month; the host would prepare snacks and even sometimes meals. If one of us were in the nearby hospital, we would usually drive together in groups to pay a visit after collecting small contributions to give the sick person. Only one lady, a convert to Islam, wore a headscarf; others only wore it when necessary: at public meetings, celebrations, or Independence Day, August 17.