TAG | Indonesia
“But even as this land of my youth has changed in so many ways, those things that I learned to love about Indonesia — that spirit of tolerance that is written into your constitution, symbolized in your mosques and churches and temples standing alongside each other; that spirit that is embodied in your people — that still lives on…”
A mob attacked Alexander Aan even before an Indonesian court in June jailed him for two and a half years for “inciting religious hatred”. His crime was to write “God does not exist” on a Facebook group he had founded for atheists in Minang, a province of the world’s most populous Muslim nation. Like most non-believers in Islamic regions, he was brought up as a Muslim. And like many who profess godlessness openly, he has been punished.
And note that the language of PC/neo-blasphemy legislation (“inciting religious hatred”) is what is used to condemn him.
The Economist continues:
In a handful of majority-Muslim countries atheists can live safely, if quietly; Turkey is one example, Lebanon another. None makes atheism a specific crime. But none gives atheists legal protection or recognition. Indonesia, for example, demands that people declare themselves as one of six religions; atheism and agnosticism do not count.
What was it that Obama was saying about “the spirit of tolerance” written into the Indonesian constitution?
But at least that’s better than what Egypt is contemplating:
Egypt’s draft constitution makes room for only three faiths: Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
Sharia law, which covers only Muslims unless incorporated into national law, assumes people are born into their parents’ religion. Thus ex-Muslim atheists are guilty of apostasy—a hudud crime against God, like adultery and drinking alcohol. Potential sanctions can be severe: eight states, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania and Sudan have the death penalty on their statute books for such offences.
The Economist goes on to note that “such penalties are rarely carried out”. Most atheists are prosecuted for blasphemy or for “inciting hatred”.
There we go again.
The Guardian reports:
Christian groups in the Philippines have called for a ban on Lady Gaga’s Manila concerts, alleging that her song Judas is an offensive mockery of Jesus Christ.
Youths gathered at a rally outside the mayor’s office, chanting “Stop the Lady Gaga concerts”, while members of the Biblemode Youth Philippines group called her videos religiously offensive.
In the song, she calls herself a “holy fool” who is “still in love with Judas”, singing: “Jesus is my virtue/And Judas is the demon I cling to.” In the video, Gaga plays a biker chick riding behind a man wearing a crown of thorns, while longing for another biker with “Judas” emblazoned across his leather jacket.
The singer is due to play the 20,000-seat Mall of Asia tomorrow and on Tuesday, and James Imbong, a lawyer filing a petition to ban the concerts, said Christian groups would not accept a compromise as organisers in South Korea did when Seoul authorities agreed to forbid under-12s from attending instead of cancelling the concert.
“She has a song that suggests that she wants to have sex with Judas and performs it with a dance,” Imbong told the news website PhilStar. “Of course, it would be accompanied by a costume that has pornographic elements.”
Manila’s mayor has issued a statement ordering Gaga not to “exhibit any nudity or lewd conduct which may be offensive to morals and good custom”, with the stark reminder that the penal code in the primarily Roman Catholic country of 93 million can convict anyone up to six years for offending race or religion…
Indonesian activists called the cancellation of a gig in Jakarta a sign of the country’s “Talibanisation” after authorities withdrew permission for her concert on 3 June, making her the first foreign artist to be banned despite selling out a 52,000-seat venue.
Indonesian human rights activist Andreas Harsono has said the concert ban represents “the Talibanisation [of] Indonesia”, while sociologist Ida Ruwaida said it was up to the government to “facilitate different interests without allowing the cultural hegemony of one group over another”.
Police denied the singer a concert permit amid claims from hardline Islamic groups that the suggestive nature of her show and lyrics would sabotage the country’s moral codes of conduct. “During her concerts, Lady Gaga looks like a devil worshipper,” said Suryadharma Ali, the religion affairs minister of the nation of 240 million people, mainly Muslims.
On the face of it, the First Amendment does not seem to be in terribly good shape in Dearborn, Michigan:
DEARBORN, Mich., April 23 (UPI) — A constitutional law professor says a trial and the brief jailing of two Florida pastors who wanted to demonstrate outside a Michigan mosque is “bizarre.”
Florida pastors Terry Jones and Wayne Sapp were briefly jailed Friday in Dearborn after refusing to pay a $1 peace bond following a trial that found they would breach the peace if allowed to hold a rally outside the Islamic Center of America, the Detroit Free Press reported Saturday.
“The judge should have thrown out the case,” said Robert Sedler, constitutional law professor at Wayne State University.
Sedler said the entire process was “bizarre” and that “the whole thing is unconstitutional.” He cited U.S. Supreme Court cases backing up Jones’ right to protest. The Michigan ACLU also criticized the case.
“This is a complete abuse of the court process, and all those involved should be ashamed,” said Rana Elmir of the ACLU Michigan office. “The prosecutor’s office and the Dearborn court turned the First Amendment on its head. What happened today should never have happened. This is a true miscarriage of Justice.”
As so often with anything involving Jones, there’s plenty of confusion to go round. Volokh has more here.
Meanwhile in Indonesia, there is this (via the Daily Telegraph):
Islamic militants involved in a plot to bomb an Indonesian cathedral ahead of Easter celebrations planned to film and broadcast the inferno. Indonesian police said 19 suspects, who had planted bombs beneath a gas pipeline at the Christ Cathedral near Jakarta, were part of a new terrorist cell inspired by al-Qaeda.
The bombs, which were defused in a 10-hour operation on Thursday, had been rigged to go off just as services at the 3,000-seat Roman Catholic church were taking place for Good Friday. Maj. Gen. Anton Bachrul Alam, spokesman for the national police, said the 19 suspects who led authorities to bombs planted beneath a gas pipeline near the Christ Cathedral Church just outside of Jakarta did not appear to be part of any large, existing terrorist organisation. Other bombs were left in bags not far from the entrance.
“At this moment, it looks like a new cell,” Maj Gen Alam said, adding that the suspects, all in their 30s and many of them university graduates, told police they had been planning to film the fiery explosion.
“They wanted to make a movie and then broadcast it … that was the plan,” he said.
Cross-posted over at the Corner.
As so often, ‘blasphemy’ is the excuse.
A Muslim mob burned churches and clashed with police in Indonesia on Tuesday as they demanded the death penalty for a Christian man convicted of blaspheming against Islam, police said. Two days after a Muslim lynch mob killed three members of a minority Islamic sect, crowds of furious Muslims set two churches alight as they rampaged in anger over the prison sentence imposed on defendant Antonius Bawengan, 58. A court in the Central Java town had earlier sentenced the man to five years in jail, the maximum allowable, for distributing leaflets insulting Islam. But this only enraged the crowd, who said the sentence was too lenient, police said.
And that minority Muslim sect?
The latest outbreak of religious violence in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country came as pressure mounted on the government to tackle religious extremism and demonstrate its oft-touted commitment to diversity.
Leading international human rights groups condemned Sunday’s bloody onslaught on the Ahmadiyah Muslim sect in West Java and demanded an immediate investigation into why police failed to stop the lynch mob…Indonesia’s constitution explicitly guarantees freedom of religion. But under pressure from Islamic conservatives, the government in 2008 banned the Ahmadiyah from spreading their faith.
Earlier in the article, we learn this:
US President Barack Obama visited Indonesia in November and praised its “spirit of religious tolerance” as an “example to the world”.