If this post is vague, it is largely because it is difficult to pinpoint what exactly is Islam in Indonesia. In several parts of this country, the teachings of Islam have been adapted (diluted?) with ancient animism and mysticism, and Hinduism.
My mother converted to Christianity from Islam and so I still have relatives who are moslems. My best friend from primary school is a moslem, my best friend from junior/senior high is a moslem (the first gay friend I had and we still see each other until now), I’ve moslem friends from college and I’m close to several of them, I’ve moslem colleagues and business partners, I’ve dated moslem men.
In my life, I’ve been taught tolerance, and it is not an exaggeration if I say I’ve challenged it time and again, both with and without my knowledge. I think being gay and Christian in a country with the biggest moslem population in the world (approximately 250 millions) has taught me that tolerance, even as I’m living a rather charmed and guarded life, is not an easy thing to have and exercise.
Maybe I’m helping perpetuate the myths of and prejudice towards Sharia, the religious law and formal code of Islam. However, apparently there are moslems who don’t understand what complete Sharia is (this includes chopping off hands for thieves and stoning to death). There are good aspects of Sharia, such as its laws on money and economics, and these are the ones that most people like (obviously). The other more extreme aspects such as death sentence, not so much.
Thing is, there are 282 of 491 provincial districts in Indonesia that are based on Sharia. I’ve no idea to which extent this law is upheld, but considering that headscarf (hijab) is imposed in the province that started it all: Aceh (yes, the same Aceh that was hit by tsunami in 2004) even on women who aren’t ready yet to wear it, I smell religious oppression. Which makes me glad I don’t live in Aceh.
I’m not a mathematician, but 282 out of 491 is uh, more than half, right?
My question is this: what about the minority groups?
I’m not a Christian anymore, but every time I read news about Christians having to hide, to struggle just to pray, while moslems close down roads for Friday prayers and therefore cause traffic deadlocks, my heart weeps with despair, disappointment, and rage. In 2009, Islam hardliners sealed Beth Shalom, the last synagogue in Java. The building, a designated heritage site, was demolished in May 2013. This is not surprising, since the world-famous Borobudur (an ancient Buddhist temple that was once the greatest seven wonders of the world and a UNESCO heritage site) suffered an attack by a moslem called Ibrahim aka Mohammad Jawad aka Kresna back in 1985. Nine stupa domes were destroyed.
However, again, it is hard to define the Indonesian Islam. Hardliners take their cues from Arab countries (and then some), without realizing the Arab countries are on their rise against Islamic forces. I’m not a Lady Gaga fan (oh God, I’m an embarrassment to the gay community!) but it was the ultimate facepalm moment when her concert was cancelled just because some Islam hardliners went gaga and staged a protest (was it even legal?) against Gaga.
The more peaceful Islam adapted to mysticism and animism and the ancient religions is considered musyrik, a heresy, and needs to be abolished. These hardliners are the ones that set Indonesia back to the ancient times, mar the beauty of Islam (as some of my friends have testified), whilst being the ultimate hypocrites.
Case in point: the people of Partai Keadilan Sejahtera (Prosperous Justice Party), who successfully championed the blocking of porn sites (I miss my Rule34, you assholes!) although, you know, they can’t block them all (yay!). Tifatul Sembiring of this political party is the information minister responsible for this censorship, and he’s a frigging bigamist and alleged corruptor. It’s a well-known fact that Islam allows poligamy, but to an extent. This is not the case with Luthfy Hasan Ishaaq, whose youngest wife is eighteen years old.
Oh yes, the things I could tell you about Islam in Indonesia, or whatever and however this religion has been corrupted by people of power and by people searching for power, because apparently, religion is still power here in Indonesia.
Talk about power fuck in its truest, most literal form.