In a time of turbulence


I posted this on Facebook but thought I’d put it here, too, as a way of recording it for the inevitable “Living in Indonesia” book.

Let’s see. Here I am in a country that has the largest population of Muslims in the world. Precisely when some idiot posts a racist/bigoted video online (although that in itself is not unusual – Americans seem to have an affinity for such actions). And the reaction from the devout Muslim community is predictable, and deplorable. Religious zealots of all kinds are a bane to society, including the Christian radical right hatemongers in the U.S.

Indonesian Muslims, however, seem far less inclined to violence. This is a democracy and a country where all religious holidays are celebrated, including Christmas and Chinese New Year. That is totally unlike my country, which would never recognize a Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist holiday, even though those populations in the U.S. are roughly the equivalent size as are Chistians, etc., here.

In short, there is more religious freedom in Indonesia, the largest Muslim population in the world, than there is in the U.S. So, I think I’m safe here, in case anyone was wondering. Maybe even safer than I would be in a movie theater in Denver or a high school in Colorado. Or just about any city street in a major U.S. city, what with all the guns being toted around.

This is from the English-language Jakarta Post:

SBY urges Muslims to exercise restraint

Fri, September 14 2012

President Susilo Bambang Yu-dhoyono regrets the assault on the United States Consulate in Bengazhi, Libya, and joined the calls from Muslim leaders in the country to ignore any acts of provocation.

Presidential spokesman for foreign affairs Teuku Faizasyah said Yudhoyono condemned the producer of Innocence of Muslims, the movie that triggered the attack in Benghazi that claimed the lives of four American diplomats, including US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.

“The incident was triggered by a video on YouTube that contains very sensitive content. The President objects to any acts of blasphemy, because it could trigger people’s anger and antagonism. The latest incidents [in Libya] have resulted in deaths [of the US envoys], which are very regrettable,” he said.

Faizasyah said that Yudhoyono had not commented on the implications of the attack nor on the relationships between Indonesia and both Libya and the US.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa also shrugged off any implications on Indonesia. “The issue has no direct relation to Indonesia,” Marty told reporters.

When asked if the US Embassy and consulates in Indonesia had asked for increased security, Marty said: “All offices of foreign missions in Jakarta are vital objects that require special security measures. We continuously communicate with them, particularly if there is any development that requires us to be more alert.”

The attack at the US Consulate in Libya on Tuesday was reportedly triggered by a 14-minute trailer of Innocence of Muslims circulating on YouTube depicting Prophet Muhammad as a womanizer and pedophile. The movie was directed by an American identified as Sam Bacile. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Bacile identified himself as a 52-year-old Israeli-American real estate developer from California.

The Communications and Information Ministry said that it had contacted Google, owner of YouTube, to remove clips from the controversial movie.

Muslim leaders and scholars have called on Muslims in the country to exercise restraint in dealing with anti-Islam propaganda.

“Muslims have the right to respond to anything that offends Islam. However, I’d like to call on all Muslims in the country to avoid using violence in expressing their objection because any violent reaction will likely be used to justify further attacks on Islam. Muslims should control themselves and avoid being provoked,” Muslim scholar Komaruddin Hidayat added.

Komaruddin also warned that the film would not be the last insult on Islam.

“This is not the first film to insult Islam. We have seen this before when the Danish cartoonist depicted the Prophet. The distribution of blasphemous material is inevitable due to the growth in communication technology,” said Komaruddin.

Separately, Masdar F. Masudi of the country’s largest Islamic organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, called on Muslims to follow the example set by the Prophet himself that promoted peace in spite of many attacks against him.

“Prophet Muhammad chose to forgive the people of Thaif even after they threw stones at him. He prayed for those who misunderstood him. I ask all Muslims to stay calm,” he said.

About 2bagsandapack

Lifetime journalist, author, magazine editor and publisher, now semi-retired and traveling the world. My plan, after living in Costa Rica for 14 months, was to visit a new country in southern Europe every three months to experience the culture and the challenge of adapting to a new environment, while on a fixed income. That plan was sidetracked when I was offered a job in Indonesia, providing an opportunity to explore Asia. Indonesia lasted for a 4 wonderful years but I have now moved on to Hua Hin, Thailand.
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