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In Joshua Oppenheimer’s incredible documentary The Act of Killing, Indonesia’s former vice president Yusuf Kalla, regarded by many here as a saner voice than most of the politicians, delivers a mind boggling speech to a gathering of the Pancasila Youth.
The Pancasila Youth is a paramilitary organisation that grew from a motley collection of semi-official gangsters that did the wet work for the Indonesian military against the “Communist” Chinese Indonesians in North Sumatra during Suharto’s New Order.
Kalla told an enthusiastic audience that Indonesia needs premans (gangsters) because without them the nation would be run by only bureaucrats, who couldn’t get many things done. But preman are men of action who could get things done in Indonesia, he said to laud applause from the crowd.
He also paid lip service to the “roots” of the term preman which he and the gangsters all claim comes from the words “free man”, an insinuation that they are their own people, independent from the dictates of others. Indeed, on one level they are right. The word comes from the Dutch vrijman (‘free man’) .
But that is where the romance of the pre man, or free man ends. The fact is that they “existed in the grey areas where they treaded within the inside and outside of law. Whilst they were admired due to their autonomy, they were also feared by the locals due to their connections to the authorities.” In other words running dogs of the Dutch against their own people and because they serve a purpose to the powers that be are tolerated and even encouraged by government officials.
If you delve into the Wikipedia definition further it gets interesting:
A preman is a member of an Indonesian organized gang, encompassing street level criminals up through crime bosses. Premans are often perceived negatively throughout Indonesian society due to associations with violence and criminality. This root word is derived from a term which describes the “confluence of state power and criminality”.However, organized crime in Indonesian has a more enduring an complicated history, as the confluence of crime syndicates with perceived legitimate political authority has a history extending as far back as the Medang Kingdom. While associated with brigandry and theft, Indonesian crime syndicates have periodically acted as enforcers to maintain authority and order. The roles of the jago or jawara were particularly important during the Indonesian Revolution, as they often adopted political roles that helped consolidating the power of local authorities. Despite their significance to Indonesian history, syndicates are universally marginalized due to associations with violence and social illegitimacy.
And when it gets to the etymology of the word it get’s even more interesting:
The word jago literally means a rooster and refers to a type of strongman that exists as a part of the everyday life in urban and rural areas of Indonesia. The jago is a social and political actor in both recent and more distant history of Indonesia. In Indonesian popular culture, the jago is often romanticized as a champion of the people whose acts of violence are motivated by a deep sense of justice, honour and order.
The preman is the modern form of the jago. This word originated from the Dutch term vrijman (‘free man’) which later morphed into preman, referring to a new breed of urban jago who “is not in the service of the Dutch East India Company, but has permission to be in the Indies, and carries out trade for the sake of the VOC,”:9:58–59 The vrijman, orpreman existed in the grey areas where they treaded within the inside and outside of law. Whilst they were admired due to their autonomy, they were also feared by the locals due to their connections to the authorities.
What all this means is that Indonesian leaders have been using these quasi-official gangsters to do their bidding for hundreds of years. It is baked into the DNA of the ruling class in Indonesia.
Hence we have Kalla and now Home Minister Gumawan Fauzi legitimizing and even praising the FPI, who are no more than common thugs in Islamic clothing.
Indonesia has progressed far since the fall of Suharto in 1998, but when it comes to the preman its leaders have not moved an inch from the Medang Kingdom. It is feudal, it is wrong and it is disgusting.
But Kalla remains a popular figure among many in Indonesia who view him, in the face of SBY’s namby pamby image, as a decisive doer. And Gumawan, who’s act of praising the FPI as an asset to the nation is as reprehensible to praising Hitler’s Brownshirts in Germany today, is still keeping his job without even a slap on the wrist.
When will the populace rise up and say: Enigh is enough?
Apres lui, le déluge? One can only hope
Banda Aceh. An elderly Indonesian said Monday he had won a rare victory against a noisy mosque, despite being forced to withdraw legal action after an angry mob threatened to kill him.
Complaints against the loud speakers issuing the call to prayer have been met with extreme opposition in Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation that is home to about 800,000 mosques.
And when Sayed Hasan, 75, filed a lawsuit in December in the city of Banda Aceh, in which he complained of being disturbed by lengthy recordings of Koranic verses, it was met with strong protests from the community.
But Hasan, a Muslim, said despite being taken to see the deputy mayor and Muslim leaders, and then being escorted to the court where he was forced to withdraw his legal suit, he had ultimately won a rare victory.
“I was forced to withdraw my lawsuit as an angry mob threatened to kill me,” he said. “But after I dropped my case, the volume was significantly turned down by about half.”
A local Muslim leader said the imam had decided to reduce the noise.
City dwellers in Indonesia are often woken up before dawn by intermingling calls to prayer from three or four nearby mosques. Many also blare Koranic verses or broadcast day-long events through loudspeakers.
Ninety percent of Indonesia’s 240 million citizens are Muslim. While most practice a moderate form, Aceh province has implemented Sharia law, which is enforced by special Islamic police.
Indonesians will be forgiven if they are flabbergasted by the news item below. That’s because in Indonesia there is lacking that narrow-mindedness that is so common among Malaysian, particularly Malay politicians who are unable to distinguish between religion, culture and language.
For you see, in Malaysia, race, and along with it religion and language, are politicised. The formula is simple: Malay(race)=Islam=Koran=Jawi=Malay(language) and anyone that says otherwise is seen as trampling in their underpants.
Hence the hullaballoo in Malaysia whenever they uncover any Bible translated into the Malay language, or in Jawi. Indoensians are too mature and diverse to believe that religion belongs to one ethnic group, race, or language. To them religion transcends the racial/language barriers.
Unspun thinks politicians such as Ibrahim Ali should get some intellectual development and maturity by visiting Indonesia, where the Bible is read mostly in the Indonesian language. In spite of this, Indonesian Muslims are in no danger of being proselytised en mass into some heathen religion. The Indonesians know better than their Malaysian counterparts that the Islamic faith is made of more sterner stuff than the word.
This goes to show one again how secure the Indonesians are being themselves and how insecure the malaysians are in their faith, their race and where they stand in society. Pathetic and Ibrahim Ali wins a shit-for-brains tag from Unspun.
Perkasa chief Ibrahim Ali says his call to Muslims to burn the Malay-language Bible written in Jawi and using the word ‘Allah’ was not intended to hurt the feelings of Christians but that it was a reaction to those trying to violate the federal constitution.
The Independent MP for Pasir Mas explained to Utusan Malaysia that his call was to wake up those who tried to proselytise Muslims.
“We respect Christians and it was not my intention to offend or hurt the feelings of others. We have tolerated a lot.
“But when we voiced out our reaction to the action of a certain party that distributed Malay-language Bibles to students of a secondary school in Penang, many were angered,” the Umno-owned daily quoted Ibrahim as saying.
Full story: http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/219603
Yet another case of men with dirty minds who blame women for the filth in their craniums.
For the sake of these easily stimulated men, they expect women to endanger their lives and sit sideways on a motorbike rather than straddling them if they are passengers.
No mention is made of whether women should do the impossible and still sideways if they are the rider rather than a pillion. Presumably a chick on a bike whether straddling or sitting sideways is too hot for religious wallahs.
Unspun’s favorite quote in this story, however, is Lhokseumawe Mayor Suaidi Yahya’s quote that “In Islam, women are not allowed to wear jeans.” Yeah, like jeans existed in the time of Muhamed.
The second best quote was the ultimate Indonesian putdown from Lawmaker Eva Kusuma Sundari who said “In Malaysia, pillion riders are obliged to straddle due to safety reasons. In this case, Malaysians are smarter than the Lhokseumawe administration.”
Ouch. To be considered more stupid than Malaysians. That must hurt.
Bagus BT Saragih and Hotli Simanjuntak, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Headlines | Thu, January 03 2013, 11:23 AM
Straddling the issue: A police officer stops a woman on a motorcycle in Simpang Mesra, Banda Aceh, on Tuesday as part of a crackdown on women in tight clothing. Officials in nearby Lhokseumawe are considering banning women from straddling motorcycles to improve local Islamic values. (Antara/Irwansyah)
The administration of Lhokseumawe, Aceh, is planning to issue a bylaw banning women from straddling motorcycles, arguing that the practice is “improper” in a province governed by Islamic law.
Lhokseumawe Mayor Suaidi Yahya said that women should sit sideways on motorcycles, with their legs dangling off to one side.
The planned regulation had been discussed with many parties, including local ulema, Suaidi said in his 2013 New Year’s speech.
The mayor said that the ban would restore fading local values caused by poor morality and make it easier to differentiate women from men when riding pillion.
He said that the planned regulation could in fact uphold the dignity of women in the region.
Suaidi said that the administration would begin publicizing the proposed regulation next week.
“At the first phase, we will issue a circular on it. After a period of time, we will strengthen the circular [into] a regulation. Anyone who violates the regulation will face punishment,” he said.
Suaidi also said that he had been considering banning women from wearing denim. “In Islam, women are not allowed to wear jeans.”
M. Yusuf A. Samad, a member of Lhokseumawe Legislative Council, said that he supported the motorcycle-straddling ban.
“We need to improve the implementation of sharia. The religious values of the Acehnese people have continued to fade,” he said.
According to Yusuf, straddling a motorcycle could make the curves of a woman’s body visibly clearer. “Showing the curves of a woman’s body is against Sharia,” Yusuf said.
Separately, the National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan) chairwoman Yuniyanti Chuzaifah slammed the plan, saying that it was prejudiced against women.
“I cannot understand the aims of such a policy. Local government should focus more on providing protection and service to women who fall victim to violence and enhancing education for women instead,” she told The Jakarta Post.
Lawmaker Eva Kusuma Sundari shared Yuniyanti’s opinion, saying that sitting sideways on a motorcycle could leave riders more prone to accidents.
“In Malaysia, pillion riders are obliged to straddle due to safety reasons. In this case, Malaysians are smarter than the Lhokseumawe administration,” she said.
“You cannot issue a policy only based on emotional sentiment that tends to be very subjective. A public policy must promote the protection of the public,” she added.
Women activists in Aceh have condemned the plan, calling it a lunatic proposal. “The way women ride a bike, how they speak and how they dress should not be the concern for the government,” Norma Manalu of Balai Syura Ureung Inong Aceh NGO.
Aceh, the nation’s westernmost province is the only region allowed to apply sharia under the law on Acehnese special autonomy. Lawmakers in the province have continued to spark controversy due to the issuance of a number of sharia-based regulations.
Among the controversial regulations are a bylaw regulating Koran-reading proficiency levels for prospective civil servants and a regulation banning women from wearing “tight” dresses.
Isn’t it so comforting to see justice being administered so swiftly and decisively in Indonesia. Justice, which moves so slowly and timidly when FPI guys are on the giving end, apparently speeds up when the violence goes another way.
Unspun is not so much perplexed by the seemingly uneven-handedness of the law in Indonesia, which is not an unusual thing, but the reputation of the poor FPI victims. Those of you who know anything about the FPI guys will know that they are real tough guys who would want to make Al Capone look like a sissy.
Tough guys, as we know from countless gangster movies, always settle their scores their way. A butterfly knife, a pistol shot, a golok, a big stick are the usual method of getting back at anyone who offends them or attacks them. So what sort of a tough guy is this who runs to the police and the courts for protection and restitution?
Will other gangsters respect him from now on? Or will they laugh at him, like a boy who wets his pants at the sight of his own shadow. Will other FPI members, if they actually have a brain, be able to look at him straight in the eyes and prevent themselves from giggling?
These are the questions that matter where gangsters are concerned, not how justice is or is not dispensed by the police and courts. So get with the program.
The Semarang district court on Tuesday declared two men guilty for abusing a member of a hard-line Islamic group.
Koes Setiawan Danang Marwardi, locally known as Iwan Walet, was sentenced to 15 months in jail, while his cohort, Mardi Sugeng, also known as Gembor, received one year in prison.
Presiding Judge Boedi Soseanto said that both men were proven convincingly guilty for attacking Dwi Pamuji, a member of the extremist group the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), this past May.
“Both defendants violated Article 170 of the Criminal Code on abuse according to the indictment,” Boedi read during the ruling on Tuesday, as quoted by Antara news agency.
Iwan Walet, a recidivist, apologized earlier to the victim and promised the judge that he would not repeat his mistake.
Though the sentence was three months shorter than what Bima Suprayoga, the prosecutor, demanded, both he and the convicts accepted the ruling.
During the previous session of court, Iwan admitted to beating the victim with a 100-cm metal pole, while Gembor confessed that he kicked and beat Dwi with a brick.
After the ruling was read, some FPI members shouted at the judge and asked him to release the convicts so that they could take revenge. Iwan then stared at the FPI supporters and challenged them — he shouted “One guts!” and his supporters answered him with “Ora Wedi,” Javanese for “Not Afraid.”
After the case, FPI members tried to attack Iwan’s supporters, but police officers prevented them doing so and escorted them out of the court.
This is a typical case of what Mitroff and Silvers discuss in their book Dirty Rotten Strategies: How We Trick Ourselves and Others into Solving the Wrong Problems Precisely. Unspun has a more precise tag for this kind of thinking which is in my tag: shot-for brains.
The root causes of the persecution of the Shiites by the majority Sunni Moslems in Indonesia is not because they hold a slightly different belief. What’s really causing this wholesale and constant attack on a minority is intolerance, reluctant and poor police enforcement and an absence of political to hold the police accountable for failure to keep the peace (what happened to the police chief after he admitted to a failure of intelligence in the last Shiite bashing? Nothing) will to get Indonesians to respect the law and one another.
Solve these problems and you would see a reduction of cases where Shiites are persecuted, often brutally. Converting Shiites to Sunnis would be solving the wrong problems precisely and have it come back to bit us in the rump. If there are no shiites to pick on the intolerance, poor enforcement of laws and lack of political will give the opportunity for other bullies in the Indonesian society to persecute others. Perhaps gays, lesbians, transponders, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, the rich, Chinese…whichever group that forms a minority and therefore vulnerable to mob rule.
Margareth S. Aritonang, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Headlines | Thu, September 06 2012, 11:08 AM
Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali says converting Shiite Muslims to the Sunni Islam followed by most Indonesians would be the best way to prevent violent outbreaks between the sects in Sampang, East Java.
“The best solution for what has been going on in there is dialogue. Many things can happen after a dialogue. We had an experience where the Ahmadis [...] converted to mainstream Islam after dialogue,” the minister said on Wednesday on the sidelines of a meeting with lawmakers on House of Representatives’ Commission VIII overseeing religious affairs.
Suryadharma was referring to the local religious leader in Ciaruteun village in Bogor, West Java, who persuaded 15 members of the minority Muslim Ahmadiyah sect in March 2011 to convert to the form of Islam practiced by most Indonesian Muslims.
The minister said that in first stage of the conversion process, minority Shiites, their majority Sunni neighbors and other stakeholders in Sampang could meet for a dialogue.
He declined calls made by moderate Muslim groups to make a determination whether Shia is heretical, claiming it was outside his remit as minister.
“I’m in no position to make the decision. I can’t ask the MUI [Indonesian Ulema Council] of Sampang to retract their religious fatwa [edict] deeming Shia as heretical. As I have said earlier, dialogue will be the best way,” Suryadharma said.
Contacted separately, Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Nasaruddin Umar concurred with Suryadharma that the ministry was obliged to educate subscribers of faiths deemed deviant by “mainstream” religions to convert to the teachings of the six religions recognized by the governments.
“We never condemned Shiite Islam as heretical or prohibited it from being practiced here because Saudi Arabia, for example, has never banned its followers from going to that country for the haj pilgrimage,” Nasaruddin said.
“I think there are around 11 different types of Shia Islam, and not all of them are heretical. It is the strands that veer off from mainstream Islam that we have to deal with,” the deputy minister said, declining to elaborate if the Sampang Shiites were outside mainstream Islam.
Sunni Muslims attacked a Shiite community in Sampang on Aug. 26, forcing almost 300 people to seek refuge in the local forest before they were given refuge in a tennis stadium.
The violence followed an attack in December 2011, when a Shiite Muslim, Mochamad Kosim, 50, was hacked to death. Three other Shiites were injured and 37 families lost their homes in the attack.
Suryadharma dismissed speculation that the violence in Sampang resulted from a sibling rivalry between Shiite leader Tajul Muluk and his Sunni brother, Roisul Hukuma.
The minister said that the mother of the brothers, Umah, was severely injured in the attack and had asked that the government to relocate the Shiites to prevent more attacks.
“She told me that when I went to visit her a day after the attack. However, it is up to the community whether or not they want to leave the area. We will move them to somewhere safer if they make the decision. Nonetheless, they can stay in the neighborhood if they want to do so,” he said.
East Java Governor Soekarwo previously dismissed schemes to relocate Shiite residents, although little action has been taken by provincial officials to safeguard them.
Critics said that Soekarwo’s reluctance to take action to aid the Shiites was done to garner support from Sunni Muslims in the run up to the East Java gubernatorial election.
Suryadharma and Nasaruddin declined to comment on potential connections to gubernatorial politics.
Ah ‘Tis the Season. Unspun‘s spent many dawns being frightened from his sleep due to the fact that there are at least three mosques nearby.
The question: “Why doesn’t anyone tell them to tone down?” occurred to Unspun but being a coward, he’s too afraid to even utter it to the weeds in his garden, lest the neighbors hear of it and take offense. It is a touchy subject and even though the intention of questioning is to try to understand, it is often misconstrued as an attempt to insult and denigrate the religion.
Unspun‘s also thought that there must be many Muslims themselves who must have asked the same question, but apart from Vice President Boediono who brought up the subject – and was roundly castigated by the faithful for it – Unspun‘s known of no one with such acute hearing. And who could blame them since even the VP is not free from vitriolic criticism.
But it is question worth answering. Another associated question that begs for an answer is why do the mosque wallahs insist on blaring their devotions in ultra-high decibels.
Is it that they believe that people will become more pious if they hear a louder version of devotion? A bit like heavy Metal Fans being more passionate than, say, Air Supply fans? Is it a power trip by the mosque wallahs? (See, I can turn up the volume and what can you do about it if you don’t like it?)
Or is there some other reason? The Jakarta Globe (in spite of its horrible editorials) has done a good job of raising the issue. Would be good if they followed up by interviewing clerics on why they turn up the volume.
In Indonesia, Mosque Cacophony Under Scrutiny
Ahmad Pathoni | August 01, 2012
Diana Marsella lives next to a mosque in central Jakarta and the call to Islamic morning prayer jolts her out of her slumber every day before dawn.
“It’s so loud that it will wake you from your deepest sleep,” the 27-year-old computer programmer said of the scratchy announcements. “I wish they’d turn down the volume and use a better sound system.”
Calls for Indonesian mosques to lower the volume of loudspeakers have mounted during the current Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, when activity at Islamic places of worship increases.
In addition to calls to prayer, known as adhan, Indonesians use loudspeakers at mosques to amplify Koranic recitals and sermons.
Discordant voices fill entire neighborhoods during any of the five prayer times, when all the local mosques blast the adhan at the same time.
Former vice president Jusuf Kalla, who is also the chairman of the Indonesian Mosque Council, said he would organize training for mosque officials about acceptable noise levels.
“We’re not going to ban the use of loudspeakers at mosques, but the noise level must be regulated,” he was quoted as saying in local media last week.
Indonesia has more Muslims than any other country but it has also sizeable religious minorities. The country is home to about 800,000 mosques.
Even the hard-line Islamic Defenders’ Front (FPI), a group known for attacking bars and other nightspots accused of flouting restrictions on opening hours during Ramadan in the past, believe mosques should keep it down so as not to disturb people, especially non-Muslim.
Koranic recitals are encouraged during Ramadan, when Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk and religious fervor is high.
“We’re worried about possible negative perceptions,” said Salim Alatas, the head of the FPI’s Jakarta branch. “Unless one is exceptionally softly spoken, no loudspeaker is necessary, especially at night.”
A businessman sees the increasing unease about the cacophony as an opportunity to introduce high fidelity sound to the places of worship.
Harry Aprianto Kissowo’s company produces loudspeakers, including a range of sound systems especially designed for mosques under the brand Al Karim.
“We want change the image of mosques as places with poor quality sound systems,” Kissowo said.
“Mosques can produce high-fidelity sound too. Calls to prayer can still be heard, and they can also be music to people’s ears.” Kissowo said his company had provided sound systems to the presidential palace and exported its products to the United States, Japan and Russia.
Guidelines on the use of loudspeakers were issued by Indonesian authorities decades ago, including a requirement for mosques to use only inside speakers for activities other than calls to prayer, but they are often ignored.
In April, Vice President Boediono triggered a debate by saying that mosques need not be too loud, something that few officials dare to say openly.
“We are all aware that the adhan is a holy call for Muslims to perform their prayers,” he said at the annual conference of the Indonesian Mosque Council.
“But I, and probably others too, feel that the sounds of adhan that are heard faintly from a distance resonate more in our hearts that those that are too loud and too close to our ears.” Some Indonesians criticized his remarks, arguing mosque noise is part of daily life in a Muslim-majority country and that he should talk about more pressing issues like corruption.
The world is a strange place. Usually it is the Moslem cleric denouncing some seemingly depraved talk show host for sexually-explicit and immoral trash talk. This time the tables are turned with the Government watchdog the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) is playing moral gatekeeper and a Ustad has the role of poacher.
What a strange and wonderful world we live in.
Indonesian TV Station Cited Over ‘Vulgar’ Episode of Renowned Cleric Ustad Solmed’s Show
Indonesian TV Station Cited Over ‘Vulgar’ Episode of Renowned Cleric Ustad Solmed’s Show
The Jakarta Globe | August 01, 2012
Muslim preacher Sholahudin Mahmoed, better known as Ustad Solmed, hosts the late night talk show ‘Akhirnya Aku Tahu’ (‘I Finally Understand’). (Photo courtesy of ustadsolmed.com)
Thank God and the FPI for democracy. Because of them the Jakarta Globe could show its true colors on where it sits where freedom of speech and taking a strong stand on sensitive issues are concerned.
Today it took an unusual step in penning a commentary on its controversial Lady Gaga editorial that resulted in a groundswell of protests.
Unspun thinks The Globe’s feisty defense today is healthy in the promotion of free speech, and would be even healthier if it also explained the logic behind the following sentences in the editorial: “It is not about how she dresses, which is needlessly provocative, but about what she sings and the lyrics of her songs. It is about the lack of morality in what she represents.”
Enjoy the editorial.
How ridiculous can people get? What is it about people who ride to political power on the coattails of religion that they think they can budget others with their zealotry?
So what if the buildings in Kelantan have idols in them? What do you think will happen to the Muslims there? Will they all be converted? Take to idol worshipping? Lose faith in Allah?
Malaysia’s Kelantan: Certain buildings can be without Islamic features
Rahimy Rahim, Asia News Network (The Star), Kota Baru, Malaysia | Sat, 05/26/2012 9:25 PM
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The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) appears to make a small consensus following the controversy on designs of new buildings but insist there be no images of idols.
The Kelantan state government will allow buildings to be constructed without any Islamic features so long they do not have elements that are against the religion, said Kelantan Chief Minister Abdul Aziz.
“Islam is a universal religion and is suitable for all races. The Buddhist association can build it [its new building] as long as it does not have elements that go against Islam,” he told reporters on Saturday.
“For instance, they can have any Chinese designs, architecture or colors but they are discouraged from putting images of idols on the buildings.”
He was asked to comment on a controversy involving the Kelantan Buddhist Association, which was required to abide by municipal by-laws requiring new buildings within its jurisdiction to have Islamic features.
It had been reported that the Kelantan Buddhist Association had submitted an appeal to the state government for its building to be constructed with Chinese features at Jl. Sultan Zainal Abidin here.
Abdul Aziz, who is also PAS spiritual leader, said the state government had no problems with the Chinese community and highlighted that they had built the Golden Jubilee Mosque, better known as the Chinese Mosque, which was inspired from his visit to Beijing.
“The mosque was created 100 percent based on Chinese design and architecture. Previously, many Chinese groups had also approached me to seek approval to build Chinese-style buildings and I had approved them,” he added.