Moderate Islam hard at work:
Just the other day, theyÂ also ruled that Sharia takes precedence over civil law. That paves the way for rulings like this, which upholdÂ Muhammad’s example above those pesky modern Indonesian laws about child welfare and human rights.
New Generation of Â Jemaah Islamiyah calls for Jihad
“To all members of Jemaah Islamiyah, unite!Â Jihad is not waged with pens or wearing prayer caps and sarongs,” one militant says to the camera, his face obscured by an editor. “No, you fightÂ jihad with weapons. Before your hair goes grey with age, join us!” He goes on to call out one moderate leader of Jemaah Islamiyah by name, saying all he does is “sit in an office.” Globe & Mail
“If people disagree with our fatwa, so be it. We never force people to follow what we say.”
Anti-pornography law challenges the penis-gourd wearers of West Papua
Mohammedan imperialism against the native tribes of Papua
There are plenty of people in Indonesia who dislike the idea of the country’s new anti-pornography law, but few of them have quite so much to lose as the penis-gourd wearers of West Papua.
The terms of the law, broad in the extreme, define pornography as “pictures, sketches, photos, writing, voice, sound, moving picture, animation, cartoons, conversation, gestures, or other communications shown in public with salacious content or sexual exploitation that violate the moral values of society”. There seemed to be little doubt that this could be applied to the koteka, a hollowed-out gourd attached to the scrotum and the traditional dress of the tribesmen of the Papuan highlands.
It is not only Papuans who are anxious about the new law. The Hindu island of Bali, whose racy bars and nightclubs are the draw for hundreds of thousands of young tourists, has concerns of its own, as do the practitioners of the traditional, and famously, sensual jaipong dance of west Java.
Four erotic dancers were jailed for six weeks this month after being caught performing suggestive gyrations at a New Year party. But even people who do not thrust their pelvises for a living are concerned, not only about this law, but about a general sense of narrowing in the boundaries of morality in Indonesia over the past few years,
Under the dictatorship of the late Suharto, political oppression was combined with a laissez-faire attitude to matters of public morality. Indonesians were unable to freely criticise the Government, but they were able to indulge other, more physical drives in Jakarta flesh pots as unconstrained as any in Bangkok or Tokyo.
After he was driven form power in 1998, formerly suppressed groups of all kinds flourished â€” and they included a variety of Islamic parties whose influence had been curbed by Suharto. It is Muslim politicians, of different shades, who have brought to bear religious values on a population divided in its attitude towards them.
Islam in Indonesia, which is espoused by 80 per cent of the 230 million population, is often spoke of as being “tolerant” â€” and certainly the everyday practices of ordinary people are very different from the more austere traditions of the Middle East. Plenty of female Indonesian students wear jilbabs, or Islamic head dresses â€” but often in combination with T-shirts and jeans of fashionably tight cut.
But within Indonesia, there are plenty of religious conservatives, including the Islamic Defenders’ Front, who smash up clubs and bars deemed to be disrespectful of Muslim sensibilities during the holy month of Ramadan, and local politicians in the autonomous province of Aceh who have successfully introduced Sharia. At the far extreme the various terrorist networks who have blown up hotels, nightclubs and embassies.
It would be easy to create an alarming image of Indonesia as a country at risk of radical Islamisation. But in almost every case, attempts to impose hardcore morality have been diluted by compromise. The publishers of a Jakarta edition ofÂ Playboymagazine were faced with furious Muslim opposition â€” so they relocated to Bali, and took care that the toothsome playmates in their centrefolds remained fully clothed.
Sharia exists in Aceh, and the proscribed penalties include stoning for adultery â€” but there is a general sense of embarrassment at the legislation, which is likely to remain a theoretical of body of law only. The erotic New Year dancers were convicted but released immediately after their trial, having been sentenced to exactly the time that they had served. Even Jemaah Islamiyah, the organisation responsible of the Bali bombings and other terrorist outrages, is reported to have alienated more extreme factions because of its recent tendency to emphasise jihad through education rather than violent attacks.
Memories of dictatorship are fresh, and Indonesian progressives are understandably reluctant to yield any of their hard-won freedoms â€” but there is a strain of respectful commonsense in Indonesia that runs at least as deep as dogmatic notions of religious purity. The activists lost their struggle against the anti-pornography law yesterday when the Supreme Court refused to strike it down. But Bali and West Papua have promised to ignore it â€” and no one believes that the tribesmen of the highlands will be stripped of their penis gourds any time soon.