Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mosques And Head Scarves

In Indonesia, support for secular politicians remains strong among a populace that seems increasingly drawn to Islamic worship and expression, which in this PBS report adds up to 10,000 men going to a mosque while women flood shopping malls to buy colorful scarves and outfits that, in the words of one shopkeeper, cover the "butt and arms." To me, that sounds like a society in which men do religion and religion is done to women. One expert says violent fundamentalists are restricted to the fringes in Indonesia. In the recent presidential elections, Islamist parties, many of which tend to the political center, got only 30% of the vote. Another expert says:
[A]mong the younger generation there seems to be a greater willingness both to be openly religious and to be modern and educated at same times. I think maybe this is not just a search for greater spiritual anchor, but also I think it’s greater self-confidence.
Under the authoritarian regime that was replaced by a vigorous democracy a decade ago, religious expression was tolerated without being encouraged. So people may just be reclaiming an aspect of their culture that had been lost to some of them, or at least marginalized. Interesting that young people are leading the way. One discouraging datum from this report: 14% of Indonesia's people must get by on less than $1 a day. And some Indonesians are definitely under the impression that Islam is greener on the other side of the world. One smiling man in the street wanted to give paradises such as Iran and Afghanistan a hand:
From what I understand about Islamic states, the people live in prosperity, and the law is enforced very strictly. Those who steal, those who are corrupt, they cut off their hand, rather than here, where people who can bribe judges and police get away with things.

Hat tip to Mike Cheever

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