Indonesia is the world’s largest, by population, Muslim country. Depending on who one talks to, the estimated Muslim population is 80-90% of the 240 million people living on this island nation. Indonesia also prides itself on its supposedly tolerant, pluralistic society where all comers are welcome. In fact, the nation is home to over 700 languages and dialects. Talk about your Tower of Babel…
However, all this talk of tolerance, especially religious tolerance, is overblown by the spin masters in Jakarta and their embassy here in the United States. The days of Suharto purges of Chinese practice of Buddhism are long gone and replaced by more stealth religious persecution practices that exist today. Using the guise of protection of a particular sect of Islam which believes there were a series of prophets after Mohammed, the government has actually forced a more stringent view on the sect. Thus, Muslims in Indonesia are equal opportunity oppressors going after wayward Muslims with equal zeal as against Christians, Buddhists and Hindus living there.
In the 1970s and then to a lesser degree in the 1990s, it was common practice of these tolerant Muslims to burn Christian churches. Although not as popular now- that would interfere with advertising Indonesia as a south Pacific paradise- in 2011, three Christian churches were burnt to the ground and the congregations discriminated against by the government. Fighting for the right to rebuild their churches, they were denied that right and ability by what amounts to a zoning board. Their appeal was heard by the Indonesian equivalent of the Supreme Court and they actually won their case to which the local zoning board basically thumbed their noses at their Supreme Court. That is like the United States Supreme Court telling the Topeka school district to desegregate their schools in the 1950s and the Topeka School Board saying, “Well thanks for your opinion, but the schools will stay segregated, thank you very much.” Now, imagine the federal government agreeing with the Topeka School Board because that is exactly what happened with the “tolerant” Muslim government in Indonesia. They refused to enter the case, turned a blind eye, and the churches have yet to be built. Thus, the stealth Indonesian government campaign against anything non-Muslim may not be as violent as in the past, but it exists nevertheless. And lest anyone feel that the burning of three Christian churches in 2011 does not a government indict, since 2012 over 50 non-Islamic places of worship, many of them Christian, have closed. In fact, our own State Department has listed Indonesia as one of the worst countries when it comes to religious tolerance ranking up there with Saudi Arabia, China, and North Korea.
But the slow advance of sharia law in Indonesia does not end with violence- real and implied and subtle- against the non-faithful among this Muslim population; it also extends to cultural areas. Due to unspecified threats, the rock group Aerosmith cancelled an appearance in Jakarta. The threats must have been real enough since a media whore band like Aerosmith would never turn down money.
Then of course there is the much ballyhooed cancellation of the Lady Gaga concert in Indonesia. Now, on one level I understand it since Lady Gaga is, in my humble opinion, rather devoid of talent. If there were threats because of her lack of talent that would be understandable, but talent is in the eye of the beholder. Apparently, there is some demand for acts like Lady Gaga and Aerosmith or else they would not schedule appearances there. And, I have no problem with people wasting their money to see acts like Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson, Lady Gaga and Madonna, all acts that rely less on musical talent and more on show. In the spirit of free speech in music, they should be permitted to make fools of themselves as they gyrate on stage and simulate masturbation, intercourse, or snake charming. But, the Indonesian are less tolerant in this area. In fact, they even denied Lady Gaga a permit to perform in Jakarta after some Islamic groups protested to the government not because she lacked talent but because her act was “unacceptable.” This conjures an interesting picture. These Islamic clerics and groups who believe her act is unacceptable in a Muslim country must base this belief on something. Chances are a bunch of turbaned, robed Muslim clerics sat around a table watching a video of her act. Perhaps, it was a Lady Gaga “best of” on-stage montage.
For all this display of cultural and religious tolerance in Indonesia, however, they have now crossed the line. In response to demands from fundamentalist Islamic groups and clerics in Indonesia, the Miss World pageant, which is to be held in Jakarta this year, has made the scandalous decision NOT to allow contestants to wear bikinis in this year’s pageant. This request was made to the England-based pageant organizers through the Indonesian government. The Miss World powers that be made the politically correct decision to “respect” the wishes of the host country. So, contestants will parade across the stage in one-piece suits, some of them further covered by a sarong. One guesses that even this may really be unacceptable to these Islamic groups and perhaps they will demand burqas during the pageant where the judges can judge the bodies of the contestants by looking only at their eyes.
Now, no doubt this decision will be welcomed by domestic feminists since they are against most beauty pageants. Then again, they aren’t really beauty pageants, but scholarship/talent contests (wink…wink). Of course, implementation of the feminist agenda has much in common with the implementation of sharia law: same methods, different ends. And all of this raises an interesting question: why on earth would the brainiacs at the Miss World pageant award a pageant to a nation with 197 million Muslims? What’s next? Pyongyang? Riyadh? Did they honestly expect Indonesia to be tolerant of a contestant wearing a bikini?
Although I generally do not watch the Miss World pageant- Miss Universe is more…universal than the world- I will particularly boycott watching it this year and I urge all Redstate readers to do likewise. And in the interest of religious tolerance, perhaps 100,000 bikini-clad Marines should storm the Indonesian beaches and instill some commonsense, tolerance, and skin on Indonesia.