V. S. Naipaul has had to withdraw under pressure from an event in Turkey because Muslims were outraged over his saying that Islam “has had a calamitous effect on converted peoples. To be converted you have to destroy your past, destroy your history. You have to stamp on it, you have to say ‘my ancestral culture does not exist, it doesn’t matter.'”
Meanwhile, in Wonogiri, a regency in Central Java province in Indonesia, newly elected district chief Danar Rahmanto is withdrawing public funding for traditional, pre-Islamic Javanese performances. Muslim leader Ahmed Sukino explained: “The traditional ceremonies are misleading people. And the offerings to the sea include a buffalo’s head and harvest produce. Rather than let the food be wasted like this, why don’t we give it to the poor?” He was in effect saying, in Naipaul’s words, “my ancestral culture does not exist, it doesn’t matter.”
“Wonogiri Pulls Funding for Traditional Performances on Islamic Groups’ Urging,” by Candra Malik for the Jakarta Globe, November 25 (thanks to MMC):
Wonogiri, Central Java. Bowing to pressure from local conservative Islamic organizations, the new head of the Wonogiri district in Central Java is withdrawing his administration’s support, financial or otherwise, for traditional events.
District authorities have in the past supported and also chipped in for the holding of several time-honored ceremonies and processions, but newly elected district chief Danar Rahmanto is changing all that.
“I will only remove three cultural events from local government budgets, but I won’t forbid the people of Wonogiri to run them in a self-financing arrangement,” he told the Jakarta Globe.
The district administration had in the past few years annually earmarked some Rp 3 billion ($340,000) for all tourism programs, including the three events which are all major happenings on the district’s tourism calendar.
Danar said he was morally bound to the political contract he had entered with a number of Islamic organizations and three political parties, namely the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), the National Mandate Party (PAN), and the United Development Party (PPP), for their support in the regional elections.
Other organizations that backed Danar’s candidacy were the Koran Tafseer Assembly (MTA), the Indonesian Islamic Propagation Institute (LDII), Muhammadiyah, the Indonesian Mujahideen Council (MMI), the Indonesian Brotherhood of Hajjis (IPHI) and the Youth of Kabah.
MTA chairman Ahmad Sukino said the group has asked the new district head “to keep his promises.”…
“The traditional ceremonies are misleading people. And the offerings to the sea include a buffalo’s head and harvest produce. Rather than let the food be wasted like this, why don’t we give it to the poor?” Sukino said.
He added that traditional ceremonies were not going to help people get closer to God and would not guarantee them protection.
Wonogiri PPP chairman Anding Sukiman said the party would withdraw support for Danar if he did not pull budgetary support for the events. “This is a political consequence,” he said.
Islamic hard-liners in Central Java have previously launched attacks on popular all-night-long wayang [shadow puppet] performances, saying they were rife with drinking….