vrijdag 28 oktober 2016

Shame to you: Dutch army in Indonesia!

Many Indonesian and Dutch people still remember the 'Pronk Affair' of 1992 when Dutch Minister for International Cooperation and IGGI chair Jan Pronk uttered severe criticism to the Soeharto Government for its cruel oppression of freedom fighters and demonstrations for human rights in East Timor. More recently there is the action related to the finding and recognition of truth of the violence of the period 1965-1967 related to the beginning of the Soeharto regime after the bloody coup of 30 September 1965.
Now, however, the Dutch army itself is under attack because of increasing publications and debates about the cruelties, war crimes committed by many members of the Dutch army in the period 1946-1949 in Indopnesia. In 1969 a list of these crimes were already listed as 'excessen' to be understood as incidental transgressions of the use of violence. Two books have recvently been puiblished on this theme. One is by KITLV Director Gert Oost-Inhdië with a summary of 659 private documents (reorts, diaries, letters, published books) of former soldiers. They add many more war crimes to the list of more than one hundred cases of the 1969 report.
All kind of reactions are now coming. One is a congference, 16 november 2016 to be held in Amsterdam, Free University, under the title: The Churches and the War in Indonesia, 1945-1950. Various speakers will talk about the role of churches in this cruel process that ended colonial rule in Indonesia (with the exception of Papua).
I will give an overview of the Catholic history. There are two general considerations to be made: one if that the end of colonial rule did not so much affect directly religious relations. Dutch missionaries experienced problems, but in general they could continue their work, different from business people.
It is also interesting to see that the religious sentiments did not play an important role: it was not a fight between Muslims and Christians but between Indonesians and Duch.
UCAN, the site of information about Christians in Asia, yesterday had a report about the 'Javanese martyr', the priest Richardus Sandjaja, killed on 20 December 1948 by members of a militia which was probably Islamic of character. But in the description it was only said that they blamed him 'for cooperation with the Dutch'.

The picture above shows some people praying at the grave. It is believed that praying here may help women who want to become pregnant. There are also stories of people who saw their cancer stopped after praying at this grave in Muntilan. The Dutch who were killed at this and one other event during the perior of colonial war (one 20 December 1948,  and nine victims in Magelang on 1 November 1945. They are not officially recognised as 'martyrs' by the Catholic Church, because the process for this has been stopped.
Postscript on 3 December 2016: Yesterday the Dutch government took the decision to finance a great project for historical research about the war crimes. The project will take 6 years: the last victims will be dead probably at the end of that period. but some things put on paper properly!

vrijdag 21 oktober 2016

Ahok, Sura 5 Al Maidah: 51 and the Sultan of Banten

Al Islam ya'lu la yu'la alaihi: 'Islam is the greatest and will not accept superiority of a non-Muslim person' is some kind of Qaidah Fiqh, a basic idea in Islamic thinking. It can be explained in very different ways. One is, that God has created human beings different: men and women, various nations and tribes (Qur'an: 49:13) and also of different religions and denominations: so, faqtabiqu bi'l khairat, we have to struggle to be the best. There is also a more restricted explanation, that Muslims should be ruled by Muslims only, not by other people.
A tricky verse of the Qur'an (5:51) forbids the Believers to take Jews and Christians as 'partners, friends, awliya' 'He among you who taketh them for friends is one of them.'
This is extended in many ways: if you are dressed like them, 'you are one of them', ... if you join their festivals, like the yaum al hubb or Valentine's Day: you are one of them. This was a fatwa that I used at the University College, to explain the structure and logic of a fatwa and how it is used to solve modern questions.
On 27 September 2016 the Chinese Christian Ahok, governor of  Jakarta visited the islands in the bay of Jakarta, Pulau Seribu and quoted this verse, because the population of the islands is strongly Muslim and Ahok has been educated in a state school where Islam was thoroughly instructed. The verse 5:51 can be explained in various ways too. Ahok wanted to state that he is a friend for Muslims, who also gave good subsidies and donations to Muslim schools, madrasah. There are new elections for local officials in 2017 coming and popularity is important and religion is again an issue. Ahok took the wrong verse or Muslims took different interpretations and Ahok was corrected and criticised by the local Muslim Council. He apologised at various occasions.
But one day later (22 October 2016) the Jakarta Post mentioned that a number of NU activists praised Ahok (Basuki Tjahaja) for his concern to understand and deal with Muslims.
Another recent case of Musim sensitivity for non-Muslim officials is the nomination of the head of police in Banten, Listyo Sigit Prabowo, a Catholic. This nomination is contested by several Muslim groups, including the leadership of MUI-Banten, the Indonesian Muslim Council, Banten chapter.  They stated that traditionally Banten has been a Muslim sultanate (although not surviving until today like the much more liberal Yogyakarta). So, this Banten identity should request that the local government shoulod be dominated by Muslims only.
5 October 2016 was the great day for the inauguration this Listyo Sigit Prabowo in Banten as the head of police (it is also the Day of the Indonesian Army).

zondag 2 oktober 2016

Cornelis de Bruin 1652-1727

Cornelis de Bruijn was a Dutch artist, painter, and traveller. I came across him in the preparation for CMR, the great project on the biblographical history of Muslim Christian Relations. He made two long trips to the East. The first trip took more than twenty years: 1672-1693 when he went through Italy  to Turkey, then to Syria and Egypt, coming back through Venice for perfection of his drawing and painting. He had not much money, so earned his living by making portraits, selling antiquities.

In my memory the sphynx of Cairo looks much different and the pyramids are broader, but it is a nice drawing.
The second trip began in 1701 when Cornelis de Bruijn first went to Russia, especially the city of Moscow, then to Persia where he concentrated on the runes of Persepolis. From 24/2 until 25/8 1706 he stayed in Batavia, from where he returned to Persia and Russia and aarived in the Hague on 10 October 1708.
He was not well versed in linguages and spoke Latin, Italian, but no Eastern language. His sojourn in Syria, Egypt and Persia did not give much as to Muslim-Christian relations. From Batavia he made a trip of some two weeks to Bantam where he had to nice meetings with the Sultan. They are in pages 361-400 of his second book: Cornelis de Bruins reizen over Moskovië, door Persie en Indië.. (Amsterdam 1711, reprint 1714 is on the Internet).
During his visit in Bantam he describes mostly the town, flowers, fruits, all kind of people and the many ladies at the court: not only there were four official, quite a few unofficial wives, a female army and many female assistant, some 850 in servioce of the sultan zodat het er grimmelt van de vrouw (such that is is squirming with ladies in the palace).
The kings tells much about the present condition and the past of his sultanate, which was pagan until 300 years ago. Some names of rulers are mentioned. The king asked to foreign guest also some religious questions: especially about the age of the world. How long ago was the creation according to the Christians? And how long will it last until the Day of Judgment? According to the drawing it was not a talk in a quiet atmosphere: an translator between them and also quite a few ladies serving with food and ladies dancing for entertainment. Pages 375-385 are about his visit to Bantam, most of it in two long talks with the sultan. The ruler showed him also the palace, small rooms for many of the ladies, also a place where they had to take of their shoes, 'because of the sacredness of the place'.  But no special and profound interreligious contact. And this is the reasom why the Bruijn will not make it to the volumes of the CMR Project, but it was some fun to read about this non-political, non-economic visit.

Judas, Jesus and stories of a dog

Simon Rae has sent me from Dunedin in New Zealand a book in return for something I sent him. It is the book by C.K. Stead My Name was Judas. It is nice reading because it is written by a poet, a professor of literature. It depicts the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth through the eyes of Judas, a friend in his youth. Single son fo rich parents while Jesus grew up in a poor family with many children in the crowded and small house. In a nice setting it has much bibliocal archaeology and history. On p. 30 he writes about the Romans in Palestine: The soldiers who had served a long time in our region were very unpleasant, as if they'd learned to dislike the local population whom they regarded as ungrateful, unwashed and potentially rebellious. The more recent arrivals, especially if they were young, were friendlier. I wondered whether this is true. In the other colony, the Dutch East Indies, the totok or full-blood white new arrival is often cosidered as someone who is still embedded in the European culture. The indo or Eurasian could be closer to the 'native' population but  in fact was a  distinct category.

Sent walking by their teachers the two young boys Judas and Jesus meet a  pack of wild dogs. Judas was afraid, Jesus not, or at least, he was calm. Jusad took his staff and chased them away, hitting one dog so serious that he lay wounded. He finished him with a blow to the head.
This reminded me one of the Muslim stories of Jesus as retold by Tarif Khalidi in his beautiful book, The Muslim Jesus. Jesus and the pupils came along a dead dog. The disciples said 'How foul is his stench!' Jesus said 'How white are his teeth!' He said this in order to teach them a lesson- namely tot forbid slander. (no 127 out of 303, page 122).