Wednesday, October 8, 2014

When piety is not the motive . . . what is?

On September 27, 2014, the Aceh provincial parliament approved the Principles of the Islamic Bylaw and the Islamic criminal code (Qanun Jinayah), which create new discriminatory offenses that do not exist in the Indonesian national criminal code (Hukum Pidana). The bylaws extend Sharia, or Islamic law, to non-Muslims, which criminalize consensual same-sex sexual acts as well as all zina (sexual relations outside of marriage). The criminal code permits as punishment up to 100 lashes and up to 100 months in prison for consensual same-sex sex acts, while zina violations carry a penalty of 100 lashes.

I was searching for articles commenting on whether Joko Widodo, who assumes the presidency on October 20, is expected to do anything to rein in the Sharia law hysteria that now engulfs Aceh—and seems to be popular with no one except “the parliament,” whose members are rarely listed anywhere (Rami Sulaiman and Partai Aceh Spokesman Muhammas Harun being the exceptions). Interviews with Aceh citizens indicate that this “crackdown” does nothing but ruin business, restrict freedom of movement, and is a general pain in the ass to normal folks who just want to get on with some sort of semblance of normal daily life.

At the same time (September 28), the national parliament (controlled by the party of everyone’s favorite war criminal Prabowo Subiato and other supporting parties) passed a bill scrapping direct elections for provincial governorships, regency heads and city mayors.  Now, leaders will be chosen by “regional councils.”  This is certainly an anti-Jokowi measure, and aims to re-centralize the government, but I wonder if a) Aceh has to play along, being “autonomous” and all, and b) would a gubernatorial appointment be any different than current guv Zaini Abdullah, a big proponent of the pervert police—and why wouldn’t he be?  Prabowo’s Gerindra party made his life very easy both during and before the campaign.  They whipped up caliphate fervor all over the province, tapping into the desperation of thousands of ex-GAM combatants who hadn’t received a dime in promised compensation after the 2005 peace accord, and who watched GAM leaders assume positions of power and leave them in the dust.   “Jakarta has done you wrong,” was the message to the disaffected (read: nearly everyone) in Aceh.  “They don’t care about you, they’ll never help you, they don’t even want you to be a Muslim anymore!  Well they can’t take that away from you—down with Jakarta, up with Prabowo, and if you elect me I’ll let you stone and behead whoever you want.”
No one had ever really thought about stoning and beheading before, but now that he mentioned it, they really were good Muslims, and wanted to insulate themselves from a now-perceived “threat” in too-secular Jakarta, so the pervert police was born. And let the subjugation begin!
Prabowo and his greedy bunch really are very, very clever.
Add a substantial war chest, and poor little Aceh seems doomed.

So what’s Jokowi going to do about it?

Not much, if the Sept 22 article in the Nation, (“Jokowi’s Way”) mentioning Aceh only once, is any indication. Remember, he’s the guy who’s said he’s “pro economic expansion” and wants to increase palm oil production by 30%. “He is now backed by some of the most well-known oligarchs in the land, whose political parties are more like obliging banks . . . “ 

Plus, Prabowo is not finished with Jokowi by a long shot.  See the Economist’s October 4 article, The Empire Strikes Back

The Sharia police have now extended their tentacles into rural Aceh, where you didn’t use to have to worry about hiring a driver who was not a husband or brother to take you somewhere, or receive agriculture training from a man who wasn’t a relative. 

"This bylaw has been highly anticipated by the people of Aceh, who have long wanted to see complete Islamic law on the veranda of Mecca," [Rami Sulaiman] said.”

In a pig’s eye they do.

You think the farmers in the Aceh Timur rainforest have time to worry about whether the boatman who takes them across the river to their cocoa farms is a relative?
You think tiny assistance providers like JMD are going to walk away from the livelihoods of 31 women and 500 family members?
I, however, will not be able to visit these programs.  I will not be able to be driven by the Director of the agency to see the projects that I have helped develop.  I’d laugh if it weren’t so pathetic and transparent.

“Ramli Sulaiman, chairman of an Aceh parliamentary commission that drafted the law, said proving extramarital and gay sex would be difficult.
‘There must be clear evidence and four witnesses who saw the act themselves,’ he said.
‘We can't just accuse people of having extramarital or homosexual sex.’"

And yet as far as I know, the 8 men who recently raped a woman as “punishment” for what they reported (but was never confirmed) as extramarital sex were never prosecuted, AND the raped woman was caned.

That possee of perverts lurking behind lampposts and popping out from behind padangs to arrest women with nail polish having coffee after sunset—are they just hoping for a quick feel before the trip to the police station?
Show me a practitioner of this horrid mangling of true faith and I’ll show you a sexually repressed loser with very few brain cells and an inability to think for himself.

Islam shmislam.  It’s sexual predation dressed up as holy order.  Shame on the lot of ‘em. 

This is, according to the Nation article,  “the result of what happens when you join Islamic modernism with dire economic prospects in a political system in which government elites are all too happy to exacerbate identity-based violence if it means avoiding discussions about their failure to do more for the country. Their sense of opportunism runs deep. Many of the sharia-type laws on the books in Indonesia have been introduced and passed by the secularist heirs of the Suharto government, eager to curry favor with radical Muslims and get on with business.”

So with both the provincial sharia bill and the national de-centralization bill, the national government, under the populist president, is going to be sanctioning sex-obsessed witch hunts in a country whose constitution forbids that Sharia law ever supersede or contradict the Constitution.

As Al Pacio would say, “I got nothin’.”

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