21 May 2009
Facebook in Indonesia...
Facebook would seem to be on a bit of a winner in Indonesia. Indonesians consider themselves to be super friendly people and always ready with a smile. This, I would agree, is generally true, Indonesia and Indonesians are friendly.This overt friendliness makes Indonesians really willing to get into the social networking that Facebook offers up to the masses of the world.
When one considers that Indonesia has a population of more than 230 million the potential market is huge even if there is only about a third of the population that are computer literate then, once again, it would seem that Facebook is onto a bit of a winner. According to Facebook, the Indonesian subscriber base increased a whopping 645% in 2008 to a mere 831,000. Plenty of room for expansion there.
Nevertheless, this winner is not going to be without its fun and games. It seems that some Indonesian imams meeting in Indonesia have an axe to grind with social networking sites like Facebook as they are deemed to be conduits of less than moral behaviour.
In fact, if the imams are to be believed then these social networking sites encourage free sex, sex before marriage, and other illicit behaviour. I am guessing the other illicit behaviour includes the posting of compromising or sexually explicit material to contacts made through the site.
The imams have decided that they are going to instruct their followers not to visit social networking sites. This will undoubtedly require the issue of a fatwa prohibiting all Muslims from visiting the sites. The belief is that social networking sites promote flirting and subsequently extra-marital affairs. It should be noted that fatwas are not legally binding and as such can be ignored. Nevertheless, some Muslims rely on religious scholars for direction in the practice of the faith and as such feel compelled to follow the tenets of any and all fatwas issued.
It is probably a fair assessment that some Facebook users use the site in order to "hook up" with others interested in some extra-marital (or perhaps pre-marital) action. However, most of the people that I interact with on Facebook use it for purposes that have no connection to flirting or desire for some supposedly sinful action on the side.
For me, the idea that there is a whole workshop or seminar for imams devoted to social networking and the sins that it might give rise to, indicates to me that these imams really do not have enough to do or their lives are just not full enough with other things. My guess is that any fatwa on Facebook is likely to lead to a large surge in Indonesians signing up to the site to see what all the fuss is about.
The Facebook logo was found here.