Tag Archives: Indonesia

Indonesians Celebrate Obama Inauguration

As Barack Obama took the oath of office, thousands of Jakartans poured through the streets of their city celebrating the new president whom they considered to be one of their own due to the years he spent in Indonesia as a boy in elementary school. Students at St. Fransiskus ASISI elementary school went wild with joy as their eyes witnessed a boy who had attended their school become the new president of the United States. Aisya Nadine, a student said she hoped “he will come visit us” and wanted her nation and the United States to work together to “change the world.” Numerous celebration were taking place in Jakarta involving members of the business community and Americans who work in the area.

The principal of the school will replay the tape of the inauguration several times in order to make certain all students have seen it. There is a joy in Indonesia, the most populous Muslim nation in the world, since from their perspective one of their own has become president of the United States.

Religious Intolerance On Rise In Indonesia

Indonesia historically has been a Muslim nation which accorded freedom of religion to those who were not Muslim, but in recent years there has been a dramatic shift away from respecting the dignity of those who seek another religion. The Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace issued a report which indicates state agencies, radical groups and community organizations have been violating minority rights. The most recent incident was several days ago when a Jewish synagogue was sealed by a mob protesting Israeli policy in Gaza. Fighting in Gaza undoubtedly has acerbated violence against non-Muslims, but even before the Israel invasion minority groups were being harassed in the name of uniformity. The Serata Institute cited “the rising persecution against the Jamaah Ahmadiyah” Muslim sect as an example of fanatic fundamentalist Muslims obtaining support from the government to close down opposing voices.

The report notes the police were involved in 121 cases of religious intolerance, regent and mayors in 28 cases and 52 others involved courts and other government agencies. A 2008 government decree requires official permission to build religious places of worship. The purpose of such legislation is to decrease the right of minorities to freedom of religion.

Indonesian Synagogue Sealed By Muslims

Mobs of Muslims marched in Indonesia to protest Israel actions in Gaza and when they encountered one of the few synagogues in Surabays, they sealed it to prevent any access. The protestors also focused on American related business establishments like the notorious McDonalds which spread the American way of life they oppose. The head of the mob, Abdusshomad Buchonri said the real goal of was to drive out of town any Jews in order to send some sort of message to Israel. “If Israel refuses to stop its attacks on the Palestinian people immediately, we will conduct a sweep for sympathizers, supporters and Israeli agents.”

It is such demonstrations that provide Israelis with justification that Muslims seek to expel them from their homes. Indonesians have every right to protest and yell out Israel, it has nothing to do with Jews who live in their country since they are fellow Indonesians.

Indonesian Government Turns Down Radicals

Calmer voices in the Indonesian government have rejected calls from Islamic militants for the dispatch of Indonesian troops to Gaza. The Foreign Ministry argued the last thing needed in the Middle East was for outside nations to become involved by sending troops to fight in a war that is rapidly getting out of hand. A number of hardline groups, including the Islam Defenders Front(FPI) have said they were ready to send volunteers to Gaza under the banner of jihad nd wanted government support for their effort. Foreign Minister Hassan Wrayuda responded: “Is conducting a jihad effective? We must ask Gaza if that’s what they need, and most probably they don’t…So far sending jihadists isn’t an option.”

The president of Indonesia Suslilo Bambang Yudhoyono said Israel attacks on Gaza had nothing to do with religion and regarded it as a clash of territory between Palestine and Israel which makes clear that religion plays no role in the conflict. He urged calm and said since Indonesia was a pluralistic society it could help play a role in mediating the dispute.

Indonesian Educators Fear New Law On Universities

A recent law passed by the Indonesian legislature has aroused considerable controversy among educators who fear the unstated implication would be to allow commercialization of higher education in the country. The law passed by the House of Representatives upheld the principles of autonomous campus management and allowed six state universities to raise and manage public funds in exchange for reducing government subsidies. There is fear universities will gradually reduce costs at the expensive of underprivileged students. At present, Indonesia only allocates 0.24% of its GDP to higher education compared to 2.4% in the United States. Many education experts believe the government is trying to reduce its expenditures on higher education by allowing universities to manage their budgets and get in the business of raising money on their own.

A university does not receive money from the corporate world without raising the spectre of ceding control of how it allocates funds. For example, it might lead to pushing business programs at the expense of the liberal arts. It is a tricky slope and only leadership which is committed to academic freedom and creation of universities which play a role in fostering liberal arts will ensure that school is more than learning a trade.

Indonesia Freedom Of Religion In Danger

Indonesia is not only the world’s largest Muslim country, but, historically it has offered religious tolerance to all people in the nation. However, the past year has witnessed the growth in power of Islamic fundamentalism and refusal on the part of government to intervene in order to protect the rights of religious minorities. Pramono Tantowi, director of the Center of Religious and Civilization Studies, told a forum that banning the Ahmadiyah Islamic sect was simply another symptom of the power of fundamentalists to impose their will in Indonesia and close down groups it deemed to be heretical in nature. He also noted, “the issue of fundamentalism has been exploited by political parties not only religious-based ones, but also nationalist ones, to woo voters ahead of the 2009 elections.”

Many university Muslim scholars are concerned their nation is slipping into a more fundamentalist approach to religion which threatens not only the rights of moderate Muslims, but Christians as well. There is already evidence of this shift in the installation of Sharia based laws in several Indonesian provinces including laws that criminalize women who go out at night without a male escort.

Bali And Papua Defy Indonesian Porno Law

Anger has swept across many areas of Indonesian in protest against the anti-pornography law which was passed by the legislature and signed by the president. Human rights groups are furious at an ambiguously worded law which could transform cultural behaviors or dress into crimes because some Islamic fundamentalist want to impose their view of what is religiously correct on people whose understanding of the Muslim religion is different as well as non-Muslims who do not wish to be told how to dress or behave. The anti-pornography law would make cultural Bali women dress which allows the female figure to display the body to be classified as pornographic. It would make pornographic the traditional Papua male wearing of the Penis Gourd.

Ifdal Kassim chairman of the National Commission for Human Rights said the law violated human rights. “It threatens the existence of minority groups such as homosexuals and transsexuals. It will further increase human rights violations in the future.” Many local authorities are shocked President Yudhoyono signed the bill without having extensive discussions with local leaders and sought their advice. His failure to recognize the rights of minorities has infuriated millions.

islamic fundamentalists have a right to dress or behave in ways they regard as religiously correct, but they have no right to impose their values on minority groups.

Pornography Definition Divides Indonesia

A bill supposedly designed to make pornography illegal, has created turmoil within Indonesia. Many opponents charge the bill was the work of fundamentalist Islamic leaders who object to what many consider to be normal visual or artistic material. The law criminalizes any sex-related materials that government deems to violate public morality. There is widespread opposition to the law in rural areas where people dress in their own style which could be interpreted under the law as an expression of immorality. Kamala Chandrakirana, chairwoman of the National Commission on Violence Against Women, expressed disappointment with the law which could be used against women who dress in a manner that offends religious fanatics.

President Yudhoyono, in signing the bill defied advice from close advisers who feared the law would encourage civil disobedience in areas of Papua and Bali whose style of life and dress is not in accord with traditional Muslim views. Opponents fear fundamentalist Muslims will take the law into their own hands and decide what is or is not appropriate dress or artistic work.

Menteng School Graduate US President!

Hundreds of children at the Menteng Elementary School in Central Jakarta were allowed to leave their classes in order to gather around and watch on television results coming in from the United States because they wanted one of their alumni, Barack Obama, to become president of the United States. “Obama, Obama, Obama, we love you!” they shouted as figures came in from abroad. Headmaster Kuswadiya told teacher to suspend classes because this was an historic day for the elementary school which became the only one in the entire world that could boast one of its alumni headed a major nation of the world.

For weeks, every day prior to the beginning of classes, teachers and students have been praying for “Barry” to win the election. As news came that “Barry” had won, the children dashed from the school screaming and yelling with delight. They regarded Barry’s victory as their own and all expressed the hope, “I want Obama to come here so we can talk with him” said Ajo, a fifth grader.

Indonesia Legislature Passes Anti-Porn Bill

The Indonesian legislature passed a controversial anti-pornography bill that has been denounced by human rights activists and many women groups. Many minority groups and those who defend social justice fear the new bill will erode free speech rights. One opponent argued: “We agree we must protect our nation from pornography, but we can’t accept the substance of this bill.” The bill defines pornography in terms that could place an artist or a comedian or a woman in danger of being arrested. For example, it defines “gestures” that incite pornography as illegal, a definition that could cast a wide variety of behaviors as tantamount to pornography.

The bill allows local groups to take the law into their own hands by acting to get rid of pornographic materials or take action against an individual who they believe is fostering pornography. The bill is so vague that an art exhibition which is termed “pornographic” by a local group can be halted and the organizers thrown in jail.