Sharia Alert from Indonesia. “Bali battles the Muslims who want an Indonesian cover-up,” from the TimesOnline, with thanks to Sr. Soph:
SUNBATHING tourists in Bali and barely clad tribesmen in Papua are caught up in a cultural war between a minority of puritanical Indonesian Muslims and the country”s tolerant majority.
The battle appears to be frivolous, involving, as it does, learned arguments over whether a navel is indecent, or a penis gourd, which guards the modesty of the Papuan male, constitutes nudity.
However, it is serious for dozens of people who have fallen victim to zealous prosecutors, police harassment and mob violence in a battle for the destiny of the world’s most populous Islamic nation.
The contest for the hearts and minds of more than 200m Indonesians is being closely watched by western nations, one reason for Tony Blair’s 24-hour stop here last week.
Blair saluted President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a reformer with a reputation for honesty; held brief talks with moderate Muslim leaders; and fielded questions on Iraq, Palestine and George W Bush from an articulate group of boys and girls at one of Jakarta’s religious boarding schools.
But many Indonesians fear their president is losing his grip on a political debate increasingly dominated by fundamentalists, who have made a parliamentary bill on indecency the centrepiece of their campaign to purify the nation.
“This is an attempt by some people to import Arab culture to Indonesia,” said Yenny Wahid, a Muslim campaigner for women’s rights.
The draft bill would extend a ban on indecency to prohibit kissing in public, which would be punishable by five years in prison. Public nudity or the “indecent” exposure of the stomach, thigh or hip “” some religious jurists argue that shoulders could also be deemed inflammatory “” could be punished by a 10-year sentence and a Â£30,000 fine.