Friday, June 13, 2008

The Fanatical Islamist in Indonesia

'My Friend the Fanatic - Travels with an Indonesian Islamist' tells the story of Indian journalist Sadanand Dhume's journey across Indonesia in 2004. ( My Friend the Fanatic )

Patung, at Indonesia Matters, has written an excellent review of the book.

The book suggests that, in Indonesia, fanatical Islam may have become a stronger force than globalisation.

The 'Fanatic' is Herry Nurdi who reportedly worries about Christian evangelists, Mossad, Zionists, freemasons and George Bush.

Dhume tells us that 'fanatics' like Nurdi do not like Yudhoyono, the former Suharto general who became Indonesia's president in 2004.

Herry believes that the American-trained Yudhoyono is backed by America.

Herry prefers General Wiranto, whose wife has worn full Islamic dress, including the headscarf.

Herry comes across as someone who is quite likeable but somewhat poorly educated and somewhat naive, especially about people like Wiranto.

Herry seems not to have considered that members of the rich elite promote Islamisation in order to keep themselves in power.

(Wiranto was once seen as secular and very close to the Pentagon. Reportedly he masterminded the East Timor rampage - Foreign Policy In Focus Global Affairs Commentary Paul ...) /

Dhume refers in his book to 'the cheaply earned moral smugness of the jilbab' (headscarf) .... 'shorthand in my mind for some education and little imagination.'

Patung, in his review, writes:

"The impression one gets is of people spending so much of their energy building more and more mosques, then walking to the mosques, going through the prescribed motions in them, and walking back from them, many times a day.

"Meanwhile the peoples of comparable nations like Vietnam, China and India are said to be beavering away learning science and building factories."

Patung writes:

"The overall message of the book is that Islamist political and cultural forces are gaining the upper hand in Indonesia, most starkly seen in the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated Justice Party (PKS) ... still a fairly minor party."

(The Muslim Brotherhood reportedly has links to the CIA, something which the 'Fanatic' would not know. aangirfan: The Muslim Brotherhood and the CIA in Indonesia; the ... / aangirfan: The use of the Muslim Brotherhood by MI6 and the CIA in ... )

Patung writes that the influence of the PKS may be exaggerated:

"It is said that South Sulawesi is a 'stronghold' of the PKS.

"However it would be far more accurate to say that the province is a stronghold of Golkar (Suharto's party).

"...But a minor complaint... It is a highly well written and entertaining read, My Friend the Fanatic is more than recommended."

Read other reviews of the book at Dhume’s website,

The use of militant Moslems in Russia, China, India & Indonesia.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008



In Indonesia, the rich are getting fatter and the poor are getting thinner.

The Indonesian president is a former general who worked for Suharto.

Members of the rich elite are promoting fundamentalism as a way of keeping themselves in power.

Duncan Graham, on 11 June 2008, wrote about FACING INDONESIA'S PROBLEMS CLEARLY / Indonesia's extended pre-adolescence.

Graham lists Indonesia's problems:

1. "Xenophobia is on the rise ... Religious intolerance is destroying places of worship and putting dissidents in jail. For most pluralism is a myth."

2. "Indonesia has more than 40 million unemployed and under-employed."

3. "The gap between the haves and have-nots is obvious, ugly and an awful threat to internal stability."

4. "The government continues to ignore its constitutional duty to spend 20 per cent of income on education. An estimated six million children don’t go to school and 1.5 million teachers are said to be unqualified. Indonesian education is way behind other Asian countries and slipping fast."

5. There are "badly run and poorly maintained transport systems."

6. There is "an unreformed bureaucracy."

7. There is "a corroded legal system."

8. All these factors "make doing business a continuous struggle. Claims for economic growth need to be considered sceptically: Indonesian statistics are notoriously elastic... "

9. "Corruption has grown since Suharto fell."

10. "Indonesian literature and film is still decades behind the rest of the world."

11. "The Indonesian army has long been used as a political police force suppressing internal separatists; if stories from closed West Papua are true the force is being applied with brutality and demands exposure."


Jakartass reminds us of some history:

26th October 2004 - "Following the trashing of bars by the self-styled Islam Defenders Front (FPI), it was reported that the National Police had yet to ‘interrogate’ any of the thugs. A full eye-witness account of the intimidation and extortion that occurred on Friday night was posted by the Reveller on Jakarta BlokM."

27th January 2005 - "According to reports, the leader of an anti-corruption watchdog devoted to exposing crimes by state officials has been arrested in Aceh province for improper handling of aid intended for tsunami victims. Farid Faqih, chairman of Government Watch (GOWA), and three members of the radical Islamic Defenders’ Front (FPI) were arrested on yesterday evening on suspicion of violating procedures in the storage and use of aid."

3rd August 2005 - "Indonesia's reputation as a bastion of moderate, tolerant Islam has been cast in doubt after the nation's ulemas council (MUI) issued 11 fatwas banning liberal Islamic thought, religious pluralism, inter-faith marriage, inter-faith prayers led by non-Muslims and women leading prayers attended by men."