Category Archives: English

Jakarta Globe: “No Need to Believe: Indonesia’s Atheists”

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At first glance, Karl Karnadi may look like any other 20-something trying to find his place in the world. It doesn’t take long, however, to realize there is something positively different about him.

Consciously argumentative, eagerly opinionated and thoroughly knowledgeable, Karl stands for something many Indonesians still find utterly unfathomable: He is an outspoken atheist, and the founder of the rapidly growing Indonesian Atheists community.

Karl, 29, does not keep his beliefs private, something many other Indonesian atheists have chosen to do in the face of frequent hostility. He makes no bones about his rejection of what he refers to as supernaturally infused beliefs, and he is passionate about fostering a fundamental change in Indonesia while remaining realistic about the challenges.

Furthermore, Karl promotes tolerance, and is far less hostile toward religion than some of the world’s most recognized scholars of nonbelief such as Sam Harris, Daniel C. Dennett and Richard Dawkins.

Established in 2008, Karl’s IA has 677 active members on its Facebook page who discuss the profusion of religiously related topics around the country.

The IA community has also taken part in a variety of scientific and philosophical seminars and gatherings, and has expanded its ties with similar groups outside Indonesia.

“We’ve built a network with other nonbelievers and humanist organizations in Southeast Asia,” Karl says.

With other atheist associations in Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore, IA has established a joint Web site called Southeast Asian Atheists, or, which hopes to broaden the discussion among atheists from different backgrounds.

“Starting last year, we have also affiliated ourselves with a global network called Atheist Alliance International, through which we build close contacts with similar communities around the world,” Karl said. “From Pakistan, Brazil, Ireland and Afghanistan, there are atheists and agnostics everywhere.”

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Cultural protectionism and Big Brother in Indonesian film making law


Cultural protectionism and Big Brother in Indonesian film making law, the UU Perfilman.

The highly controversial new bill on Film was passed into law (UU Perfilman) by the parliament on September 8th. These are the articles in the law most commented upon:

  • Article 6: Prohibition of depictions of drug use, violence, gambling, as well as pornography, insulting of religion, and provocative, hateful content.
  • Article 7: Prohibition of the screening of films aimed at over 21 audiences in non-cinema locations or open spaces.
  • Article 18: Film makers are required to inform the Minister of Culture and Tourism of the title, story outline and production plan of any prospective film. The Minister will not approve productions that have the same title and/or story as existing films. There is no charge for this process. If approval is granted film production must begin within three months.
  • Article 32: Cinemas must show 60% local content (of course meaning foreign films may only be shown 40% of the time).
  • Article 42: Foreign films which do not uphold correct religious, ethical, moral, and national cultural values are to be prohibited from import.
  • Article 49 & 51: Films and those who work in the film industry are to uphold correct religious, ethical, moral, and national cultural values.
  • Article 53: Regional governments are responsible for enforcing, developing and implementing locally based film policies, in accordance with national law.

Typical of the many derisory and hostile reactions to the law among performers and film producers came from old acting hand Deddy Mizwar, who cried

This country is doomed, this country is doomed!

while threatening to retire as chairman of the National Film Board (Badan Pertimbangan Perfilman Nasional) in protest.

Culture & Tourism minister Jero Wacik defended the bill in nationalistic terms, saying the Indonesian film industry would be boosted immeasurably by Article 32, the 60% local content rule at cinemas.

The Perfilman law can be viewed on Google Docs, as can the old 1992 law.

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Aceh passes adultery stoning law

Source: BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Aceh passes adultery stoning law.

Indonesia’s province of Aceh has passed a new law making adultery punishable by stoning to death, a member of the province’s parliament has said.

The law also imposes severe sentences for rape, homosexuality, alcohol consumption and gambling.

Opponents had tried to delay the law, saying more debate was needed because it imposes capital punishment.

Sharia law was partially introduced in Aceh in 2001, as part of a government offer to pacify separatist rebels.

A peace deal in 2005 ended the 30-year insurgency, and many of the former rebels have now entered Aceh’s government, which enjoys a degree of autonomy from the central government in Jakarta.

It needs more public consultation. We need to involve the ulemas – the Islamic clerics – in drafting the law
Adnan Beuransah, Aceh Party

The legislation was passed unanimously by Aceh’s regional legislature, said assembly member Bahrom Rasjid.

“This law will be effective in 30 days with or without the approval of Aceh’s governor,” he said.

The governor of Aceh, a former rebel with the Free Aceh Movement, is opposed to strict Sharia law. He had urged more debate over the bill.

‘Moral degradation’

Married people convicted of adultery can be sentenced to death by stoning. Unmarried people can be sentenced to 100 lashes with a cane.

Acehnese men read the Koran, Baiturrahman mosque in Banda Aceh

Muslim men in Aceh are expected to attend prayers every day

Previously, Aceh’s partially-adopted Sharia law enforced Muslim dress codes and mandatory prayers.

“This law is a preventive measure for Acehnese people so that they will avoid moral degradation,” said Moharriyadia, a spokesman for the Prosperous Justice Party.

A new parliament will be sworn in next month, after local polls saw the moderate Aceh Party win the most seats in the provincial assembly.

The Aceh Party has said it will review the law once the new parliament is sitting.

“It needs more public consultation. We need to involve the ulemas – the Islamic clerics – in drafting the law,” said Adnan Beuransah, a spokesperson for the Aceh Party.

About 90% of Indonesia’s 235 million people are Muslim, practising a moderate form of the religion.

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Naughty Restaurants subject to Inspection

August 25, 2009 – 17:21

Cilegon (pos kota) – Cilegon mayor, Tb. Aat Syafa’at was outraged when he found out that his ban on opening restaurants up to 4 pm was not observed by restaurant owners. Tuesday (25/8).

The mayor quickly ordered city officials to warn the restaurants. Several restaurants and fast-food outlets which remain open during the daylight will be subjected to inspection and given warning.

The chief of Cilegon Public Order officials, Enang Sudrajat said that inspection will be conducted to uphold the regulation of Cilegon city, specifically Regulation no. 556.322/1547/Pol PP concerning the ban of entertainment centers, restaurants and food outlet to open in daylight during the month of Ramadhan.

“Keeping in line with the regulation, all restaurants and entertainment centers must be closed during Ramadhan. They can resume their business starting 4 pm. Things will return to normal 3 days after Eid day,” said Endang.

Endang further reiterated that his department will not refrain from taking strong measures. Should there still be violators then they must face the consequences which is the cancellation of their business permit. “We will be vigilant. If they do not heed our warnings, then it is possible to cancel their permit,” said Endang.

It was previously reported that a number of fast food restaurants in Cilegon violated the Mayor’s decree. They remain open in daylight during Ramadhan. (haryono/B)

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Special Report: Depok mayor retracts HKBP church permit

In a country which embraces five official religions and claims Unity in Diversity as the state motto, people with different religions apparently continue to encounter difficulties living side by side. In the wake of a recent conflict between a Protestant church with Muslim groups and Depok administration, The Jakarta Post’s Hasyim Widhiarto compiled the following report on the problems between the majority and the minority in the municipality.

Betty Sitorus, a member of the Huria Kristen Batak Protestant (HKBP) congregation in Cinere, Depok, recalls how a sudden attack in October last year had destroyed the congregation’s wish to have their own church.

“Builders working on our church were taking a break when around 50 people came and asked them to leave.” Betty said.

“They were all carrying wooden blocks with nails in them, threatening workers not to continue the construction of the church.”

The attack was organized by the Muslim Solidarity Forum (FSUI), members of which claimed to be Muslims living in the Bukit Cinere Indah (BCI) residential complex and nearby areas. It was the second time the congregation has faced difficulties after work on the same church was stopped in 1999 following a series of protests from nearby residents.

After the attack, the committee sent three letters to Depok Mayor Nurmahmudi Ismail, asking him to facilitate a dialogue.

Instead of receiving any response, however, the committee unexpectedly had their church building permit (IMB) canceled by the mayor on March 27.

Without their own church, the HKBP congregation, which currently comprises more than 350 families, now borrows Bahtera Allah church in Pangkalan Jati, South Jakarta.

Depok, situated on Jakarta’s southern border, was once known as Catholic city with many churches. Depok was founded by Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC) officer Cornelis Chasltelein, during the Dutch colonial period.

The 200 square kilometer municipality is currently led by Depok Mayor Nurmahmudi who was nominated by the Islam-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), and elected in 2005.

Having run his administration for more than three years, Nurmahmudi, however, has faced criticism from many non-Muslim residents since it has been very difficult for them to obtain building permits for their houses of worship.

The recent cancellation of the HKBP church building permit, for example, has drawn many protests from Christian communities, Muslim scholars and activists who promote pluralism in Indonesia.

Ranap Sinaga, head of the advocacy group for church construction disputes at the Indonesian Communion of Churches’ (PGI) Depok chapter, said since 2007 the Christians in the city had submitted 23 applications for building permits for churches, but only six of them had been approved.

“Seeing the unfriendly situation, many Christian congregations have chosen to hold off submitting other building permit applications.

“Now, many *Christians in Depok* who don’t have churches prefer to hold masses or other prayers at houses, borrow other congregation’s churches or rent public halls,” he said.

According to a 2006 ministerial decree, a new house of worship must have the support of at least 90 congregation members and at least 60 local residents of different faiths. It also has to obtain a recommendation from the govern-ment-sponsored Interfaith Communication Forum (FKUB) before gaining final approval from the local administration.

Data from Depok FKUB shows there have been 34 applications for building permits for houses of worship since 2006, but less than 10 have been approved so far.

“Most of the churches we have rejected get a strong refusal from the broader community, even though their congregations have already secured the required approvals of 60 residents,” FKUB chairman Farid Hajiri said.

Depok currently has a population of more than 1.4 million, 92 percent of whom are Muslim, 4.4 percent Christian and 2.4 percent Catholic.

According to the Depok Religious Affairs Office, there are currently 62 churches facilitating more than 62,000 Christians and six churches for more than 30,000 Catholics in the city.

The distribution of churches has also become a problem.

In Sawangan district, for example, there are only four churches for 15,620 Christians – far fewer than the 22 churches in Pancoran Mas where some 9,000 Christians reside.

In Beji district, some 11,300 members of the Catholic community claim to have no church in their area.

Nurmahmudi had approved building applications for several churches. On various occasion, Nurmahmudi has said his decisions to approve building permits for houses of worship were aimed at preventing conflicts.

Ranap said he was disappointed, saying the mayor should have played an intermediary role to settle such disputes.

“Seeing this situation, there is a strong indication the mayor wants to localize the churches and perhaps limit the development of Christianity in Depok.”

Noted Muslim scholar Azyumardi Azra said the Depok mayor should have clarified his latest decision to revoke the HKBP church because the decision had affected not only the relationship between Christians and Muslims in the area but also Christians with the administration. (hwa)


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FUI Rejects Israeli Chamber of Commerce

By Republika newsroom
Saturday 15 August 2009 – 19:41

Jakarta – Forum Umat Islam (FUI) urged the government to end bilateral relationship with zionist Israel. FUI found the indication that the secret relationship between the two countries is getting closer with the presence of Israeli Chamber of Commerce in Indonesia.

“Secretly, the Israelis opened a chamber of commerce in Jakarta when the media were busy reporting the bombing in Ritz Carlton and JW Marriot and the capture of terrorists network,” said FUI Secretary General, Muhammad Al Khathath, during a press conference of Religious Gathering themed “Reject Israeli Chamber of Commerce in Indonesia”, Saturday (15/8) in Jakarta.

According to Khathath, Israeli Chamber of commerce presence in Indonesia started seven years ago. In 2001, the minister of Trade and Industry, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, signed a ministerial decree no. 23/MPP/01/2001 on 10th January 2001. The content of the decree legalize trade relations between Indonsia and Israel.

The suspicion was confirmed by news in Israeli hebrew-language media, Dza Marker, which reported Israeli attempt to widen its economic network in Southeast Asia. The head of Israel Chamber of Commerce Asia Region, Ran Kohin, stated that the opening of Israeli chamber of commerce in Jakarta is a good step in the trade relations of the two countries which have been going on since several years ago. However, Khathath admitted that he still haven’t found out the chamber office’s address, which was headed by Immanuel Shahaf. Therefore FUI called on everyone who is aware of this information to reveal it.

On the same occasion, FUI – a forum for Muslim Clerics, mass organizations, and political organizations, and Muslims all over Indonesia – stated their concern. The concern was reiterated by the chief of An-Nashr Institute, Munarman, and the head of Medical Emergency Rescue Committee (MER-C) Presidium, Jozerizal Jurnalis.

“The Zionist Israel usually opened a chamber of commerce in a country as a camouflage for their intelligence,” said Munarman. Israeli bargaining power will be strengthened because they provide medical, weapons, and geothermal equipment. Munarman further warned Muslims to remain united against Israeli dominance in all fields.

In another tone Joserizal explained that Israel is the enemy of the world. Speaking from his experience, Israel have conducted barbaric actions with the use of phosporic bombs and plated bombs that caused many palestinians to be crippled. Jose hoped that Indonesian Government reconsider relations with Israel.

Elsewhere, the head of Ngruki Islamic School – Abu Bakar Ba’asyir – warned President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to act decisively. “If (he) can’t fight the Jews, (he’d) better canceled (his) Majlis Zikir (Islamic congregations -ed),” he said. Ba’asyir further stated that fight against the Jews must be done with arms because Allah have stated in the Quran that the Jews are the number one enemy. c84/rif

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“Prince of Jihad” arrested in Indonesia

THE owner of a radical Islamist website who calls himself the Prince of Jihad in his blog postings has been arrested in connection with the Jakarta hotel bombings.

Counter-terror squad officers arrested Muhamad Jibril Abdurahman, alias Muhamad Ricky Ardan bin Mohammad Iqbal, near Jakarta late yesterday and also raided the office of his website,, a police spokesman said.

Police believe the Pakistan-educated suspect helped channel funds from abroad to finance the July 17 twin suicide bombings on the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels that killed nine people, including six foreigners.

The source of the funds is not known, but police have said they are investigating whether the money came from al-Qaeda brokers in the Middle East, among other possible donors.

Muhamad Jibril is well-known in Indonesian radical circles as a publicist of extremist material, and is the son of a firebrand Islamist cleric who has been linked in the past to the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) regional terror network.

In addition to the website, he edited a publication called Jihadmagz which espoused jihad or “holy war” against the West.

“He chose his jihad path through working in the media. He felt there were many Muslims who were being suppressed everywhere and there was a war of thoughts,” Indonesian extremism analyst Noor Huda Ismail said.

Police said Muhamad Jibril was an accomplice of Saudi national Al Khalil Ali, who was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of smuggling money from abroad to pay for the attacks.

Muhamad Jibril, believed to be aged in his mid-20s, is the son of Indonesian cleric Abu Jibril who was arrested in Malaysia in 2001 on suspicion of being a senior JI member.

The father was deported to Indonesia where he served about five months in jail for using a forged passport. He now runs a website,, which also supports radical Islamist groups and spouts jihadist ideology.

“Jihad and terrorism are not something to be afraid of or avoided, because to cause terror to Allah’s enemies is the instruction of Islam,” said an article by the Prince of Jihad which appeared on both websites after the July 17 attacks.

Abu Jibril’s lawyer, Yusuf Sembiring, confirmed that Muhamad Jibril was the author of articles on and attributed to the Prince of Jihad.

“Abu Jibril said his son is not involved in whatever the police are accusing him of. He said Muhamad Jibril is not involved in the hotel bombings,” the lawyer said.

He said the websites were not meant to “spread terrorism” but police confirmed they were investigating Muhamad Jibril for possible breaches of the criminal code related to inciting hatred.

His website was offline today.

Police also reportedly raided Abu Jibril’s house and took laptops and copies of sermons.
The cleric accused police of seeking to “terrorise Muslims”, according to the Detikcom news website.

“I worry that Muslims will be afraid to say jihad,” he was quoted as saying.

Muhamad Jibril’s detention brings to five the number of people in custody over the hotel attacks, the worst in the mainly Muslim country since 2005.

Five other suspects are being sought, including Malaysian alleged mastermind Noordin Mohammed Top, who was reported killed in a police raid earlier this month but remains at large.

Another five members of the cell have been killed, including the operational planner who worked as a florist at the hotels, police said.

Analysts have said that if the funding for the attacks came from abroad a likely source would be al-Qaeda, but police have made no such connection.


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FPI sweeping on beauty parlours and entertainment centers, Yogyakarta – Tuesday (25/8/09) early in the morning, Front Pembela Islam (FPI – Islamic Defender Front) – a mass organization – conducted a sweeping on beauty parlours and entertainment centers in Yogyakarta. They almost clashed with the Police who came to disperse them.

Dozens of people who claimed to act on behalf of FPI entered several buildings. They conducted a sweeping actions on entertainment centers deemed to have disturbed the sacred month of Ramadhan.

Riding several cars and motorbikes, the militia also interrogated several youths who were hanging out on the streets of Yogya.

Those they found drinking alcohol were immediately dispersed, not forgetting to crush the bottles of liquors they found on the scene. These militias almost clashed with the police who came to disperse them on account of disturbing public order.

Fortunately the clash didn’t materialize. However the militias have threatened to continue their vigilante actions on entertainment centers. Furthermore they demanded restaurant owners to close their restaurants during daylight. (Kresna Agung / Dv)

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