“They decided to attend the program because they don’t have sufficient understanding of Islam.” So here we have the spectacle of an Islamic hardliner, someone whom Western Muslim spokesmen would say is a misunderstander of Islam and an “extremist,” charging “moderate” Muslims with misunderstanding Islam. So both sides now claim that the other side just doesn’t get Islam, which is apparently such a glorious complexity that only an extraordinarily tiny minority of its adherents can grasp its true nature.
“MUI nixes Christmas for SBY,” by Rabby Pramudatama for The Jakarta Post, December 24 (thanks to Lookmann):
Conservative Muslim leaders are not stopping with edicts forbidding Muslims from wishing Christians a Merry Christmas. Now they want the President not to attend any observation of the holiday in an official or personal capacity.
A representative of the Indonesia Ulema Council (MUI) renewed on Sunday an edict (fatwa) forbidding Muslims from extending holiday greetings to Christians and said that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had to skip a national Christmas celebration scheduled for Dec. 27.
“If you talk about the MUI edict, it forbids attendance at the [Christmas] rituals. A Muslim should not attend the ritual, because it is a part of worship activities that should only be attended by Christians,” Ma”ruf Amin, the council’s deputy chairman, told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.
Ma”ruf said that Yudhoyono, as a Muslim, should not attend the national Christmas celebration, which he said would contain a Christian religious element.
Yudhoyono and Vice President Boediono, who is also a Muslim, are among the top officials who are scheduled to attend the national Christmas celebration. Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali joined the President and Vice President during a similar national observance in 2011.
Several Muslim organizations have echoed the MUI”s call. The United Indonesian Muslims (Persis), for example, said that it was inappropriate for the President to attend the national Christmas celebration.
“Even though they are the country”s leaders, they are forbidden to attend such Christmas celebrations,” Persis chairman Maman Abdurrahman said, as quoted by the website of conservative Muslim organization Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia’s (HTI).
Maman said that Yudhoyono and Boediono should instead order officials from the Religious Ministry”s Protestant and Catholic directorate to come to attend the event on their behalf.
Separately, the infamous hard-line Islam Defenders Front (FPI) said that Yudhoyono and Boediono would “undermine” Islam if they decided to attend the celebration.
Muchsin Ahmad Alatas, the head of the FPI”s campaign division, advised the President and Vice President not to attend the celebration. “They decided to attend the program because they don’t have sufficient understanding of Islam,” Muchsin said. “They should have consulted with people who understand Islam better before making their decision.”
Muchsin said that Yudhoyono should ignore Christians in favor of the nation’s Muslims. “People will understand his decision, because he will have respected the feelings of the [nation’s] majority-Muslim population.”
“If the President shows up, it means that state affairs take precedence over his faith,” he said….