There is considerable angst amongst the terminally fearful and outraged that Sharia law is about to overrun Indonesia after a Pew Report recently reported that 76% of indonesians wanted Sharia Law to be the law of the land.
I have not read the Pew report in full but it is obvious there are serious flaws in taking the more outrageous reports at face value. Like all these things it’s how you question, who you question and when you question. Any public speaker worth his salt knows how easy it is to get an audience to give you the answer you desire. I been doing it for years and it is amazing what you can get a group of people to agree with.
Let’s deal with a couple of the more obvious issues. Firstly, it will come as a surprise to many but Indonesia is not a Muslim Country but a Muslim Majority Country. This is a subtle but crucial distinction. Not only is there a very significant non muslim minority throughout the land, there are significant regions, provinces and even Islands (Bali being the most obvious example) where Islam is very much the minority faith. So we can assume the PEW sampling did not include these regions.
Sharia Law itself is a misnomer as essentially there is no such thing. One can search high and low for some dusty tome which details the law and regulations for the Muslim faithful but it just does not exist. Sharia is more a concept continually debated by Muslim “Scholars” of varying credibility ranging from raving hateful loons to quite articulate and learned gentlemen. Some macro classics of Sharia Law fails is banking. Malaysia and the majority of the Middle East are quite at odds with what is allowable and what is not under the Sharia concepts (To be fair, not sure sure the money changers in the temple were dealing in modern derivatives at the time). If you really want to watch some fun get 10 “scholars” to discuss dress for women/men, Female Gentile Mutaliation (I refuse to use any other term for the barbaric practice) or Women in Sport or as leaders.
So question remains why did the PEW Report turn up such seeming overwhelming support for Sharia “Law”.
Unfortunately despite what is shouted from the treetops Democracy has not taken root in Indonesia as most of us brought up in the West would understand it. The nation is controlled by ruling elite with little connection to the people. It would a rare politician (and I can think of none) that actually believe they are elected to represent the people rather than themselves. There is a rising anger and the people understand the current system has failed them as they witness the daily rape of their national resources, corruption, mob violence and the destruction of their future. People are grasping out at straws hence the seemingly strong support for Sharia. However I have little doubt that you could get a similar level of support calling for a return of the Suharto era with all its brutality and oppression. Call it “at least the trains will run on time syndrome” .
Other will point to seemingly religious radical groups such as the FPI (Loosely Islamic Defenders Front) as a sign of rising Islamic Fundamentalism. While the rank and file of these groups are full of cowardly thugs who may honestly believe in their somewhat frail minds they are doing Allah’s work, the origins of these gangs should not be forgotten. These groups were created and fostered by various parts of the ruling elite to allow rule by fear. This continues to this day, what is more telling about groups the like the FPI is the targets they do not attack rather than than the ones they do. That said don’t expect the ranting moron at ground level to grasp the fact he is little more than an low intelligence expendable, attack pig for vested interests.
So what does this all mean? Is Indonesia about to become a Sharia State? Probably not, despite the shrills. Certainly the nation state in its present form would not survive such a change and and the implications would be very bloody. That said, history is full of examples where a corrupt and decadent ruling elite have lost control of their creations of intimidation but we should hope that will not happen.
From the stump it is difficult to see where Indonesian “democracy” is going. The current crop of Presidential Candidates can only be described as vomit inducing, Perhaps more of Indonesia will end up like poor Aceh, Sharia by default. Should that occur it could only be considered Democracy’s failure rather than a Sharia victory . Time and again, the people have rejected the overtly Islamist parties and the regression of human rights they represent. It will be the nation’s soul that will be ripped asunder if they succeed purely because the people have been betrayed by greedy, grasping nationalist politicians.
Wealth and Religiosity (Photo credit: jurvetson)