zaterdag 27 februari 2016

Hardliners versus soft voices: LGBT in Jakarta and Kotagede

The Universitas Indonesia in Jakarta-Depok is planning-developing a Resource Center for Sexuality Studies, with a Support Group. This initiative was denounced by Muhammad Nasir, minister of Research and Higher Education in the Jokowi Cabinet. He also added that he considered the initiative as a support for homosexuals and ´violators of the moral values of Indonesia´.
His call was followed by a rare common declaration of the major religions of Indonesia: Majelis Ulama Indonesia, MUI, the Conference of Catholic Bshops, KWI, the Buddhsts of Walubi and the High Council of Confucians in Indonesia. Majelis Tinggi Agama Khonghucu Indonesia or MATAKIN. No reason was given why the Protestants and Hindus were not part of this declaration (UCAN, 10-02-2016).
A critical voice in this debate was of Franz Magnis Suseno (UCAN, 18 February 2016). He stated that sexual orientation is something discovered by an individual person on the way to adulthood. This must be accepted and not discriminated because people are born in natural diversity. Most of them are attracted to the other sex, but if this is not the case, people should not be discriminated. Magnis Suseno rejects the idea of a blessing or legal possibility for a homosexual marriage. 'And it is not necessary because these couples will have no children. And marriage is for the legalisation of children. But how these homosexual couples act according to their own will and in private live, is not a matter for the state and other people.´
In Islamic Law there is a third category besides man and woman: the hermaphrodyte. In fiqh books they are mentioned as a status between man and woman. For Indonesia the word is waria, (a word combining wanita-pria). In the debate this concept is not mentioned until now.
A small house, called pondok-pesantren Al Fatah was opened in 2012 in Kotagede, Sayangan, under supervision/connectin to Nahdlatul Ulama, especially for transgenders. It became the focus for protests by FPI, Front Pembela Islam, but also for supporters of this initiative. Initially the local police defended the place, a private house on Joglo style, built in the 1800s for a family and donated for this purposem by the family of its director, Shints Ratri. The best known transgender is Maryani, who  failed to make the hajj-pilgrimage in 2013. The following year she was successful to do it. She died in 2014. Notwithstanding the support of NU leaders, the police later withdraw the protection and closed the religious school on 25 February 2016 to defend 'public order' (it is located in a narrow street; at events many youngsters come and bloc the road with their motorbikes). - Will be continued.

woensdag 17 februari 2016

Postcolonial Comparisons

George-Henry Bousquet (1900-1978) is a famous scholar on Islam in North Africa, as well as on Al-Ghazali and sexual ethics. In the mid-1930s he made a comparative study of colonialisms, especially their policy towards Islam. The British were lazy and ignorant according to him: through indirect rule they allowed all kind of old traditions. Shari'a courts could continue as such, without interference. The Dutch were over-active. They had taken over the authority of most indigenous rulers and in the field of marriage and family law, as well as inheritance. They created but also controlled facilities for islamic courts. Snouck Hurgronje even started the practice to examine candidates for penghulu or high mosque officials who also presided the shari'a courts. The French were most perfect according to Bousquet: they imposed their own culture in public life. I have written elsewhere on this subject.

The director of KITLV  since about a decade, Gert Oostindië was mostly known as a specialist in the Caribbean colonialism of the Netherlands, but he is now working more broadley, including Indonesia as well. Only recently I read his book of 2010: Postkoloniaal Nederland (Postcolonial Netherlands: a history of 65 years of forgetting, of memorial days and repression).
Oostindie included Portugal in the comparison, but as to Muslims there are very few from the former Protuguese colonies. France and Britain  have large Muslim communities: in France from Algeria, Tunesia, West Africa. In the UK from Pakistan, India, East Africa and Nigeria. British migrants were much better educated than those who arrived from North and West Africa to France. This has for our generation made these Muslim communities quite different.
In the Netherlands Oostindië sees three major groups of migrants from Indonesia in the later 1940s and 1950s: Eurasians, Moluccans and Chinese. All three groups counted very few Muslims and therefore they are not the pillars for the Muslim community in the Netherlands. In the 1970s quite a few migrants came from Surinam: about one third of that colony (out of 500,000) opted for the European country. Among them were a quite strong group of Muslims who originally migrated from India to Surinam. There was also a smaller group of Muslims from Java who lived for about three generations and now form a small community in the Netherlands. But much larger groups of Muslims came after 1965 from Turkey and Morocco and therefore Dutch society considers Islam mostly as a Turkish and Moroccan religion.

Look at the green colour above: about one third of migrants to European countries is Muslim, but on the whole the number is only 6% and will rise probably to not much more than 8% in this generation.
Especially France has had a strong tradition of a secular society, laicité, not giving attention to religion as a cultural force and relating it to private sphere only. French society had a strong feeling of mission civilatrice, a cultural mission, without giving much attention to religion (pp. 213-6). In this way the colonial characteristic of Bousquet has been continued until now. The cruel attacks in Paris last year may have been partly caused by this strong secular sentiment in society.
In the United Kingdom there is still a feeling of Britishness and some continuation of pride: the colonial empire is still a reason of pride and glory for many British people and they resent that this glory has gone forever now. But instead, Britain itself has been turned into a multicultural society with a strong acceptance of differences between communities, as long as they do not interfere too much the other traditions. A national Commission on Integration & Cohesion published in 2007 a report on Our shared future and the colonial past was not even mentioned here. We should never exaggerate the burden of the past, surely not when it is once called the white man's burden!

dinsdag 16 februari 2016

The seven plagues of Indonesia, according to Jaspert Slob

Living in Holland, retired from university, most of my contact with Indonesia is through historical documents. Nowadays it is often for writing for the great CMR project, Christian-Muslim Relations, a Bibliographical History. This is about Coen, Rumphius, Pieter van Dam and other VOC officials. But besides through personal contacts, there is daily news, reading the Jakarta Post and UCAN News in an Indonesian daily bulletin. Magazines like Hidup or the website are not really important or people abroad. I read also once a month the blog by Lambertus Hurek, a journalist in Surabaya, originally from Lembata. He has much news about Flores, Catholics in Java, his contacts with Muslim society in Surabaya. Like a friend in a distant country! His blog has some 16.000 hits per week. Ten times more than mine! But there is also a weekly service, provided by Jaspert Slob, once a lecturer at a theological seminary in Indonesia (Manado, 1976-1983) and between 2005-2010 (more or less so) animator for Muslim-Christian encounter in Salatiga, together with his wife Josien Folbert.
Jaspert sends every week two emails to a circle of friends about what is going on in Indonesia, especially related to religious and socsial development. It is raw material, taken from newspaper and magazines. Much from the internet. It is usually bad news, because most news is about problems that yet have to be solved. Below I give a summary of the sending of last Saturday, week 6 of 2017, early February 2016. I gave it the title of The seven plagues of Indonesia. This week the series counts 27 pages, besides the summary of one page only
1. Papua. Jaspert is very much involved in the fate of this most eastern part of Indonesia. He reports about a 'Day of memory' in the Netherlands, Amersfoort, where some 100 people came together, to discuss human right abuses.
2. Terrorism. Coordinating Minister for safety/law and order wants to extend law 15/2003 against terrorism. He proposes that anything said or done against the unity of Indonesia must be seen as terrorism. Vague definitions are very dangerous and do not really help. A democratic society also needs criticism.
3. Poso. Actual terrorism is still around in Poso. A police officer was shot close to the town of poso, while terrorists still have a base in the forest of this region.
4. PKS is not only a political party, working in the democratic system, but also an activist organization seeking to reach its goal of an Islamic society through any means, mostly through small cells.
5. RUU, there is a proposal for the bill on the protection of religious life (the new formulation for the old Bill on Religious Harmony): rancangan Undang-undang Perlindungan Hidup Beragama. Lukman Hakim has formulated here five problems: a) what about the religious groups outside the big six? allow? ban? b) how to regulate religious propaganda, directed to people outside one's own group? c) building permits for houses of worship; 4. internal definition of doctrines in the big religions; e) FKUB, the formal encounter of religions at the level of provinces, districts and sub-districts.
6. Dissidents like the mayor of Bogor who fights a court decision allowing the building of a church, but supports and attends the opening of a new office of Hizbut Tahrir, an organization that does not recognize the Indonesian State.
7. Corruption. Realistic goals are often forgotten and covered by empty slogans. One of these is about Manokwari as the City of the Gospel, but it is dangerous due to drunkenness. Further political parties: there is much wrong in GOLKAR, the party of the vice-president Yusuf Kalla, but also the president, Jokowi, only pays lip-service to the fight against corruption.