30 August 2010

Blasphemy, Really?

The rate of posts has slowed considerably over the last few days. I have two assessment tasks due this week. I have just finished off a 2,500 word essay on teaching English to Indigenous students. I am having a quick break before getting back to polishing it up in preparation for submission at 5:00PM Tuesday.

Now, on with the show!

This article from The Jakarta Globe caught my eye for no other reason than the "Sleep-Deprived American Takes On Indonesian Mosque, Loses". I figured that what was to follow was some crazy old American dude pulling the plug on his local mosque in an attempt to get some quiet time. I also figured that the only way this could end was badly. So, I was not surprised to find out that I was pretty much on the money.

On a personal note. I lived in Indonesia for a good many years, and quite often I resided pretty close to my local mosque. To be honest, I cannot remember being disturbed by the call to prayer, even early in the morning. I do kind of remember that I might have been at first, but then I guess I must of just got used to it and accepted that that was par for the course. I suppose I was immune to it.

Anyways, it would seem that Luke Gregory Lloyd (64 - old dude) could not take the noise anymore. He apparently shuck around the back of the mosque and quite literally pulled the plug, right out of the offending speakers. As you can imagine, the local worshippers did not take too kindly to this intrusion into the practice of their faith and set out to teach "old man" Luke a lesson. Those interviewed seemed to intimate that some form of retribution beating was on the cards and death possible.

Now, I get it that what the old fella did was rude, it was disrespectful and, as it turns out, stupid. But, I really do not see the need to beat the fella senseless or even to death. I thought Islam was a religion of peace, tolerance and harmony? There is nothing real peaceful, tolerant or harmonious in beating a bloke because he turned down the volume on your speakers, is there?

Cool-Hand Luke managed to escape the clutches of his pursuers into the safety of a neighbouring village. However, his house was not so lucky. When it was decided that lucky Luke was not going to be the victim of today's bashing, his pursuers decided they would bash the next best thing, his house. Subsequently, his house was trashed. Knowing the Indonesian propensity for trashing stuff, I can just imagine what his house must have looked like once the unhappy mosque goers were done.

Funnily enough, in that truly sad kind of a way, it turns out that Lukey boy is an "overstayer". His residency permit expired way back in April 2006. Oops! I wonder how he managed to live in the small town environment of Mataram, Lombok, without ever being noticed. Maybe the same coppers that have now arrested him and placed him in 'protective' custody were facilitating his ongoing presence in Lombok over the last four years. Then again, it might have been the local immigration officers, as it seems that they are not so willing to comment on what happens next to the Luke-meister.

Aside from putting himself in a position to be busted for overstaying his visa and getting his house trashed, it appears that the local constabulary are now investigating the old fella with a view to charging him with blasphemy. Yes, if you are shaking your head, I understand. How does a bloke who pulls the plug on a mosque speaker system find himself looking down the barrel of a five-year stretch in the slammer for blasphemy.

To be honest, disrespecting Islam is one thing, but turning down the volume on a speaker system is hardly blasphemy. The idea that it has even been suggested let alone the fact that an investigation is being considered or undertaken highlights how silly some people can be. Any self-respecting Indonesian, irrespective of religion, must be shaking their head in bewilderment at this one. Or, then again, it might just be a simple case of "here we go again!"

No matter what happens, it would seem that Lukey's stay in Indonesia is all but over.


Simon said...

What a story.
I think stupidity is obvious here as everyone knows a foreigner doing this kind of thing would never end well.

Blasphemy is FAR too much though, especially when you see some groups getting away with forcefully stopping Christians from even praying.

I'd like to hear the outcome of this.

Anonymous said...

Stupid indeed. I know Greg and the village he lives in - which is Kuta, approx 50kms from Mataram, the capital. This is not the first time Greg has kicked off at the mosque but I am guessing it will be his last!

Rob Baiton said...

@ Simon...

Me too. But, it would seem that as a visa over-stayer he might have a few problems in remaining in-country considering how high profile his little act of civil disobedience has become.

@ Anonymous...

Thanks for dropping by and adding a personal angle.

I am tending to think it might be his last run in with that mosque.

antone said...

would you be able to get used to a 24/7 barking dog next door to you in your new town??

Rob Baiton said...

@ Antone...

Seriously? Barking dogs?

I have to say, Yes! I lived in Indonesia for more than 15 years all up, and the call to prayer was never really a hassle for me in the beginning. By the end, I do not even recall being woken by it in the wee hours.

As to barking dogs. Yes, I have one now. But, perhaps because of my Indonesian training, I cannot hear it. Maybe that is because I am old and deaf, or maybe the brain is an incredible organ that can be trained to filter certain response out...

Yet, in any event, your analogy seems weak to me.

Thanks for dropping by and commenting though.

lawbugger said...

just what are the facts in this case. Id say you have read Lukey's side. Who do we believe?? Lukey's $20 000 dollars damage?

Does anyone really care what happened? I get the impression from reading the Globe that most people (expats) have adopted a golden rule approach "Dont muck with the mosque under any circumstance", and hence there is little sympathy for this gent.

Pity really. Just what rights might an expat expect to be able to assert and even enforce?

Rob Baiton said...

@ Lawbugger...

Unless you have been commenting under a different assumed name, then I have this question for you: "where the hell have you been?"

The facts in the case? Seem pretty simple from the Globe side of the story: expat fellow on an expired visa has a beef with the noise emanating from the local mosque, and decides to pull the plug...literally.

The mosquers are not happy about this and want to teach crazy and disrespectful expat fellow a lesson with their fists and feet. Expat fellow escapes to the safety of next village.

Unhappy mosquers trash his joint. Currently, at least to me, unknown amount of damage (but trashed would suggest substantial).

Care what really happened? What do you mean?

There are issues here bigger than this incident alone. Simon notes at least one of them; the FPI interference (some might say organised harassment of church goers in Bekasi).

I do not subscribe to any golden rule theory on this. My personal view is that I see no point in messing with any place of worship. But, that's just me.

The little sympathy that arose for this fellow stems from the fact that if the noise bothers him, then there were other ways to deal with it.

After all, he was residing in Indonesia, there is a majority Muslim population, this majority practices their faith in a particular way which involves a rather loud call to prayer. My point is that Muslims, mosques, and loud calls to prayer are par for the course.

What rights might an expat seek to enforce? Plenty. I am guessing that I would need to explain. Although, I am a little busy right now (assessment tasks and all due this week), but I find that you tend to pop up when you need to have something answered that has come up in your work environment that you could not answer...right?

For this particular gent there is the added problem of him being illegally in the country. This alone can often be a severe limiter of the rights one might seek to enforce in this situation.

He would have a claim to the damage done to any personal property.

But, therein lies the problem. The problem is not with what rights he has but rather who might enforce them?

Ho hum...

You back for the long haul? Or is this just an in and out deal on this one issue?

lawbugger said...

Ive attempted to read everything that you have written. And despite your study commitments you have kept ahead of me. You are a prodigious gent, to say the least.

As you might know I am a teacher, of some 36 years experience, who for one reason or another still finds questions that are behind his reach. Im here for the long term - as you might note (36 years is no mean feat) - I have not had time to comment/inquire of late and have had to do the hard slog myself. Results still not of publishable quality as yet. Hence no blog.

To cut to the main thing here I had just read the following from the Globe, which I think you missed...

Lloyd said he only got as far as the musholla’s courtyard, where he was pushed. He said he became angry and pushed back, at which point he was targeted by stones.

“It is not true that I unplugged the loudspeaker’s cable,” Lloyd said. “It is not true that I stomped on a Koran. It is not true that I hit a minor at the mosque. None of the allegations are true. I only asked them to turn the speaker down.”

He also said his house was trashed after the incident, with damages estimated at Rp 200 million ($22,000).

Lloyd expressed shock that he had been attacked and his house damaged, saying that he had frequently helped residents since moving to the village more than 10 years ago.

The American, who claimed to be a former mayor of a Californian city, said he taught English in the village and financially assisted three children there.

When asked about allegations that he had violated the immigration law, Lloyd said his visa was valid until April 1 next year.

Lloyd, who refused to have his picture taken, said he hoped to be able to stay in Indonesia and return to Kuta village. He said he had contacted the US Embassy in Jakarta but had not yet received a response.

He is staying at a hotel in Praya, Central Lombok, and appears to be guarded loosely by police. Lloyd said he was allowed to leave the hotel on his own to do his daily shopping.

my question was mainly about evidence and establishing facts. Nothing too deep. I did wonder about how come he had so much stuff - $ 20 000 worth - we all exaggerate at such times - but this is a lot of trashed stuff. Did they trod on this blackberry and push he fridge over (that's a couple of grand I suppose)?

Anyway the Pres is just about to make a speech about the Malaysians. There's quite a bit of animosity against these guys - I wonder why Singapore doesnt incur the same visceral wrath??

lawbugger said...

Ive attempted to read everything that you have written. And despite your study commitments you have kept ahead of me. You are a prodigious gent, to say the least.

As you might know I am a teacher, of some 36 years experience, who for one reason or another still finds questions that are behind his reach. Im here for the long term - as you might note (36 years is no mean feat) - I have not had time to comment/inquire of late and have had to do the hard slog myself. Results still not of publishable quality as yet. Hence no blog.

To cut to the main thing here I had just read the following from the Globe, which I think you missed... see next

lawbugger said...

as a matter of interest blogger told me my comment was too long - but published anyway.. hence the mess...

Rob Baiton said...

@ Lawbugger...

Yep, blogger has been doing that for some reason of late. I have tried to work it out and fix it, but I am not the techno wizard I need to be for those sorts of things...oh well!

I have seen it. Just have not got around to postscripting it to the original post or blogging it as a new update piece.

On the evidence. With respect to over-staying and an appropriate visa. This would be a paper trail, and it would be verifiable one way or the other. It is possible to have a visa or a KITAS that is real-looking but not valid. I could have had an Indonesian passport for myself to go with a KTP for the right price.

How much damage was done. Simple list of goods damaged and current market value. From what I can gather, the majority of the damage was to his home in the form of broken windows and knocked down walls.

It is interesting that he has contacted the Embassy and no one has gotten back to him. Just goes to show how caring some Embassies are when their citizens get into a spot of bother, doesn't it?

Mayor of a Californian city, but doesn't mention which one. does he? And, the financial assistance of children combined with the not wanting to have his photo taken...my guess is this will have people wondering.

Even if it is as simple as not wanting to let people know what he looks like to prevent revenge attacks, yet everyone knows which hotel he is staying in...not going to take too long to work out who he is and photograph him.

Agreed, there are always two sides to a coin. The truth might be somewhere in between...yet, the story all around sounds a little weird.

Yari NK said...

Perhaps basically everyone of us has different tolerance to noise. I'm fortunately the one who is not easily bothered by noises. I can still fall asleep with my iPod on, let alone the noise of a muezzin calling to prayer... I'm not sure whether it is a merit or a demerit. Imagine (hope not) my house on fire and I do not wake up to the fire crackling... :D

Rob Baiton said...

@ Yari NK...

Yep, agreed! Everyone has a different tolerance for noise.

The questions here are many in number. To be fair, my post did not do justice to them all.

For example, tolerance aside, are there noise ordinances in Indonesia which would limit the decibel level of noise in public spaces? If so, do they apply to mosques?

My tolerance for noise and light increased significantly after some time in Indonesia. I can now sleep with the lights on and a lot of background noise. The power of the human brain to shut certain things out when it wants to or needs to.

The expat involved has since claimed his innocence. Apparently, from his perspective this is all a media beat up about something that was not that serious to start with.

Maybe the press will continue to follow this case.

Rob Baiton said...

@ All...

Here is the link to The Jakarta Globe article that discusses this fella's innocence.