04 January 2008

Moderates vs. Fundamentalists / Radicals

The moderates against the radicals or the radicals against the moderates is not a new phenomenon in any country and Indonesia is no exception to this. The recent spate of attacks by fundamentalist Muslims against minority sects proffering an alternative view to the mainstream teachings of the faith indicates an escalating battle for control of religion. What is at stake? Perhaps the secular status of Indonesia.

I have written previously on this issue but it is one worth revisiting briefly. The MUI fatwa has provided the basis for the attacks by the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and the Indonesian Mujahideen Council (MMI) on the Ahmadiyah sect. The attacks have seen the mosques and property of Ahmadiyah followers burned and damaged. These attacks have also been directed personally at followers.

Unfortunately, the President has provided explicit support for the power of the MUI and the fatwas that it issues by stating that he will abide by them. This support has only emboldened the FPI and the MMI to advance their conservative agenda of establishing a pan-Asian Caliphate and then implementing / imposing Syariah law throughout the newly established Caliphate.

Interestingly, the MUI is funded generously by the Government but the Government is not bound to abide by any decisions made by the MUI. In fact, the Government could go a long way to reducing the importance of the MUI by refusing to fund it.

The question here though is: Are the moderates prepared to step up and take back the debate on secularism and lead a revival of moderate thought? The answer to this question will go a long way to determining the social stability Indonesia enjoys over the coming years.


Anonymous said...

I dont speak english verry nice, but I think I will try to coment about your writ I think Mr. can moderat you write.
Above I will explain or coment in Portuguese.

O senhor deve ter consideracao das religioes dos outros acaba ofendendo relgiao dos outros. Questiono, porque e que muitos estao contra o isslamismo sabendo que ha muitas religioes no mundo ate falsas que comandam suicidios e mais. Peco a resposta para o meu email:watakala@gmail.com.
Penso que sr. deve moderar as suas escrituras na internet.

Rob Baiton said...

Anonymous - My apologies because I do not write, read, or speak Portuguese at all.

Although, I think I can understand some of the words independently of each other I imagine that in sentences they might mean something different or have different implications.

I wish I could have understood well enough your comment and then had the ability to respond in Portuguese.

Religious fundamentalism is not isolated or restricted to any one faith - this is part of my point.

The main point is that if the world is to live in harmony then we must oppose fundamentalism wherever we find it and in whatever forms it takes, this includes religion.

The post is not a criticism of Islam as being fundamentalist. However, it would be naive to state unequivocally that it does not have fundamentalist elements, but elements of fundamentalism is true of all religions.

Secondly, the post relates to a specific series of incidents in Indonesia involving a "sect" who have been declared to be proponents of heretical teachings and an edict issued to that effect. This edict has become the 'legitimizing' basis for the attacks that have followed.

It also follows an earlier posting that relates to the constitutional right to the freedom of religion supposedly guaranteed in the Indonesian Constitution.

Therefore, when read in conjunction with the earlier post, I am really concerned with how the Government is going to fulfill this obligation and promote tolerance and harmony within the broader community without being see to be anti-Islam.

Humanity has committed untold numbers of atrocities in the name of faith, religion, and God.

So, my question is for those that believe in God as being omnipotent, all-powerful, all-caring, and all-loving, then how does one justify destroying and killing in God's name?

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