Wednesday, June 30, 2010

INDONESIA: Fitna and apostaphobia in Bekasi.

NOTE: According to the Jakarta Post (2 July 2010) a leading British academic has called for greater assimilation between the EU and Islam, citing Indonesia as a key example of a peaceful coexistence between Muslims and a democratic government.
EU should embrace Islam: Expert


Bekasi, located in the outskirts of Jakarta, West Java, is a culturally and religiously diverse city. However, converging trends of migration, urbanisation, Islamic radicalisation, and rapid development in residential and industrial zones has turned Bekasi into a hot-spot for religious tension rooted in Islamic apostaphobia (fear of converts and conversions).

On Sunday 27 June, at the second Bekasi Islamic Congress held in Bekasi's Al-Azhar Mosque, the call was made for all Bekasi Muslims to prepare for a fight. "[Christians] have gone too far," said Abdul Rouf, the head of the Bekasi branch of Muhammadiyah.

According to the Jakarta Post, on the last day of the Congress (Sunday 27 June), a new group to be known as the Bekasi Islamic Presidium was formed and tasked specifically with addressing the "Christianisation problem". Consisting of nine members representing different Islamic organisations in the city, the Bekasi Islamic Presidium's recommendations include the formation of Islamic militant groups (laskar) within each mosque and the drafting of Shariah-based policies by the Bekasi administration.

Sulaiman Zachawerus, the chairman of the Bekasi branch of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), told the 500-strong Congress, "We will urge the [Bekasi] regency and municipal administrations to pass more sharia-based bylaws and regulations to limit apostasy and squeeze out attempts to weaken Muslim unity in the city." (NOTE: Sharia limits apostasy by making it a capital offense.)

Bekasi administration spokesman Endang Suharyandi consented, saying, "As long as it does not violate any regulations," the municipality will support the implementation of the Sharia-based policies and carry out the Congress' recommendations.

Murhali Barda, head of the Bekasi chapter of the hard-line Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), told the Jakarta Globe on Sunday: "All Muslims should unite and standby because . . . the Christians are on to something. Apparently they want to test our patience. We are planning to invite them for a dialogue to determine what they really want. If talks fail, this might mean war."

Speaking on behalf of the Wahid Institute, Yenny Wahid told the Jakarta Globe that she wanted to see the government being more assertive toward hard-line religious groups. "Anarchism on behalf of religion is increasing, and the government seems to fear any group that uses Islam," she said.

Rev. Palti Panjaitan of the HKBP Filadelfia congregation in Bekasi, which has been refused a permit to build a church, agreed, noting that several Islamic radical groups operated as if they were guaranteed impunity.

Yunahar Ilyas, a chairman of Muhammadiyah, told the Jakarta Post that there were innate "ethical" problems with religious missionaries in the country.

The "unwritten" rules among missionaries, he said, stipulated that one should not attempt to convert those who had already embraced a religion.

"Once the rule is broken," said Ilyas, "it becomes a sensitive matter and the local administration must play an active intermediary role in preventing the conflict from escalating."

The Bekasi Islamic Presidium is planning a roadshow aimed at persuading every mosque in Bekasi to form its own paramilitary unit (laskar) that can be quickly mobilised if the decision is made for "war".

"We are planning to station members in every mosque in the city," said Tunggal Sawabi, an official with the Bekasi branch of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) who was appointed as one of the field commanders.

Abdul Qadir Aka, secretary general of the proselytisation board at FPI Bekasi, believes the militant groups are of strategic importance. "When the need arrives we will have units that can be mobilized," he said. "We cannot just depend on the FPI. We have hundreds and even thousands of mosques in Bekasi. Imagine what we can do together."

Bekasi Muslim Groups Call for Formation of Militia Units, Warn of Potential 'War'
By Ulma Haryanto, Jakarta Globe, Sunday 27 June 2010

'Call to Arms' the Latest Chapter in City's Simmering Religious Tensions
By Ulma Haryanto, Jakarta Globe, Monday 28 June 2010

Muslim Groups Talk War Over ‘Christianization’
By Ulma Haryanto, Jakarta Globe, 28 June 2010

Radical groups urge Bekasi administration to implement Sharia law
Hasyim Widhiarto, The Jakarta Post, Bekasi, West Java, Sunday 27 June 2010

Hard-line groups target Christianity with sharia law
By Hasyim Widhiarto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, Monday 28 June 2010

According to Indonesia's 2000 census, 10 percent of Indonesians are Christian. Indonesian Christian leaders however, say that figure is too small. Operation World (2000) puts the figure at 16 percent. According to a recent TIME magazine article entitled: 'Christianity's Surge in Indonesia' (26 April 2010), Indonesia is experiencing a "religious revolution". There are more Islamic headscarves (signifying growth in fundamentalist political Islam) and there are more churches (signifying growth in the Christianity).

Furthermore, as TIME notes, the growth in Christianity is coming from conversions as opposed to births. According to TIME, nominal Muslims, disillusioned by violent terrorism and the spread of repressive Sharia Law, are questioning and rejecting Islam.

The "unwritten" rules of missionary activity that Yunahar Ilyas spoke of are Islamic rules: i.e. everyone is free to convert to Islam, while no-one is free to leave; and no-one may tempt a Muslim to leave Islam. As Islam deems every child born to a Muslim father to be Muslim, what choice does any Muslim have in the matter of personal faith? None! Christianity on the other hand advocates religious freedom.

But even if Christians submit to Islamic proscriptions in order to prevent tensions and avoid troubles, the issue of fitna still arises. For even without speech, even without intention, Christians can still lead Muslims to the Lord Jesus Christ. Of course Islam itself fuels the process (as TIME noted) by disillusioning and repulsing its more nominal and "secular" adherents, many of whom hold a worldview more compatable with Christianity than with Islam to start with.

For fitna is anything at all, from vile torture to magnetic grace, that could tempt a Muslim to leave Islam. Fitna is the presence of a church (which explains why churches in West Java are being forced closed and denied permits). Fitna is Christian benevolence and humanitarianism (which is why Christian aid groups are increasingly under fire). Fitna is the very existence of thriving, joyous Christians when Islam mandates that Christians be subjugated, vulnerable, miserable dhimmis. In Islam, fitna is equated with persecution, which must be eliminated.

Fitna is fast overtaking proselytism as the primary and pivotal issue in Muslim-Christian relations. This increases the jihad threat-level considerably.

The issue at the root of it all, however, is the ageless problem of Islamic apostaphobia.