Compared with Senator Belinda Neal and the goings on at the Iguana-Joe’s nightclub, today’s story onThe Religion Report is really a very trivial matter.Last time I looked on Google, there were around 1400 stories on Belinda Neal, but you won’t find our little story on the front page of The Australian or The Sydney Morning Herald. Instead you’ll have to goto an editorial in last week’s Manila Times.‘A fascinating fact about Indonesia … is that it has the world’s largest Muslim population but remains asecular state. Recent events, however, could indicate that Indonesia might cease to be a secular state before long.’Well, you may remember that a few weeks ago on this program we reported on the growing tensions inIndonesia around a minority Islamic sect called the Ahmadiyya, and the campaign by radical Muslimgroups to have them banned, a campaign which has seen an Ahmadiyya mosque burned to the ground inWestern Java.Political Islam has been on the rise in Indonesia for some time. Our story goes back at least as far asJuly, 2005, when Indonesia’s Ulema Council, the council of Islamic scholars, issued a series of fatwasnot just against the Ahmadiyya, but against pluralism and liberalism in general.On June 1st, the day Indonesians celebrate their national pluralist ideology of Pancasila, a rally inJakarta organised by moderate religious groups in support of tolerance and pluralism was attacked by aMuslim mob armed with sticks, and many people were injured.Then last week, the Indonesian government issued a joint ministerial decree, not banning theAhmadiyya, but ordering them to ’stop spreading interpretations and activities which deviate fromorthodox Islam’. The decree also has implications for Liberal Muslims and for non-Muslims. His hascaused alarm for supporters of pluralism, the moderate Muslim Wahid Institute, named after the former President, Aburrahman Wahid, has warned that Indonesia is on the brink of becoming an Islamic state.Let’s begin with the march on June 1st.Jakarta-based Maya Muchtar is a Muslim. She chairs the organising committee of the NationalIntegration Movement, a group that advocates for religious pluralism and she arrived at the PancasilaDay rally in Jakarta on 1st June just after the attack occurred.
: I was going on my way there when I received a telephone from my friends who werethere already. They said that there’s not going to be a parade because we’ve been attacked. I said, Whatdo you mean we’ve been attacked? They said The radicals have been attacking us and beating us up andwe are all scattered around. So I panicked and I started calling people up and then telling them that theyhave to come back to our office, because the rally was supposed to - we should call it a parade becauseit was supposed to be a very peaceful parade - and they were supposed to start at 1400 hours. But it wasonly 1310, and then everything was like chaos already. It happened so fast, my friends were like in themiddle of preparing everything, they were just gathering. There was supposed to be like 12,000 people joining this parade, but then there were only 1500 of us when the attack occurred.We were there from various organisations, the National Alliance for the Freedom of Faith and Religionconsists of like 50-plus organisations, and my organisation, that is National Integration Movement is oneof them. And we were supposed to invite all the children of Indonesia to come and join us and to remindthe nation that even though our country, our nation, consists of so many people from various religious backgrounds and various education backgrounds, but we remain together, we remain united. Unity and
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