Indonesia executes six drug convicts, five of them foreigners

Indonesia executes six drug convicts, five of them foreigners
Widodo has pledged to bring reform to Indonesia

Ban appeals to Indonesia to stop death row executions

Ban appeals to Indonesia to stop death row executions
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has pleaded to Indonesia to stop the execution of prisoners on death row for drug crimes. AFP PHOTO

Pope: 'Death penalty represents failure' – no 'humane' way to kill a person

Pope: 'Death penalty represents failure' – no 'humane' way to kill a person
The pope wrote that the principle of legitimate personal defense isn’t adequate justification to execute someone. Photograph: Zuma/Rex

Obama becomes first president to visit US prison (US Justice Systems / Human Rights)

Obama becomes first president to visit US prison   (US Justice Systems / Human Rights)
US President Barack Obama speaks as he tours the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Oklahoma, July 16, 2015 (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

US Death Penalty (Justice Systems / Human Rights)

US Death Penalty (Justice Systems / Human Rights)
Woman who spent 23 years on US death row cleared (Photo: dpa)


"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Obama Family Enjoys Down Time in Bali Before Heading to Jogja, Jakarta Later This Week

Former US President Barack Obama and his family were spotted rafting on
the Ayuung River in Badung, Bali, on Monday (26/06), after arriving on the
tropical island over the weekend. (Antara Photo/Wira Suryantala)

Denpasar. Former US President Barack Obama and his family were spotted rafting on the Ayung River in Badung, Bali, on Monday (26/06), after arriving on the tropical island over the weekend.

Obama was seen wearing a white t-shirt, sunglasses and a red velvet jacket. The family's rafting session ended at the rear of the Four Seasons Resort in Sayan Village in Ubud, where the Obama family is currently lodging.

On Sunday, the family visited the Jatiluwih rice field terraces in Tabanan, which has been categorized as a world heritage site by Unesco.

The former president donned a casual blue polo shirt, while former First Lady Michelle was spotted in a baseball cap and vest, with her jacket tied around her waist.

The couple's youngest daughter Sasha wore a bright yellow baseball cap and white vest, while eldest daughter Malia was not seen.

On Sunday (25/06), the family visited the Jatiluwih rice field terraces in Tabanan,
which has been categorized as a world heritage site by Unesco. (Antara Photo)

"Obama met with local farmers. They also took some photos and had a chat," Jatiluwih Tourism operations manager I Nengah Sutirtayasa said, as quoted by

The arrival of the 44th US president in the village also coincided with the 2017 Jatiluwih Agriculture Festival.

Earlier this weekend, the Obama family visited the Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA), where they were greeted with a traditional Balinese dance. The museum was first established in 1996 in a bid to preserve and develop Balinese art and culture.

Obama, who lived in Jakarta for a few years during his early childhood in the late 1960s, is scheduled to visit Yogyakarta and Jakarta later this week, where he will speak at the 4th Indonesian Diaspora Congress.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Obama kicks off tropical holiday in Indonesia

Yahoo – AFP, June 24, 2017

Soldiers gather for security prepartions in Denpasar on Indonesia's resort island
of Bali, on June 23, 2017, ahead of a visit by former US president Barack

Barack Obama kicked off a 10-day family holiday in Indonesia that will take in Bali and Jakarta, the city where he spent part of his childhood, officials said on Saturday.

The casually dressed former president arrived in the resort island of Bali with his wife Michelle and their two daughters, a local military commander said.

"They arrived late last night and went straight to the hotel in Ubud," a local military commander, I Gede Widiyana, told AFP.

Obama woke up early and did some exercise in the lush green riverside resort, Widiyana said, but it was not known how the family would spend their time in the quiet and artsy Ubud area.

Next week, the family is slated to depart for Yogyakarta, where they are expected to visit ancient Borobudur temple. They will spend two days there before flying to Jakarta.

Obama spent four years until 1970 as a boy in the then sleepy capital of Indonesia after his divorced mother married an Indonesian.

Many Indonesians felt a strong bond with Obama because of his exposure to Indonesia and its culture, even making him a two-metre (six-foot) bronze statue that was placed in his former school.

The statue of "Little Barry" -- as Obama was known to his Indonesian school friends -- depicts the boy Obama dressed in shorts and a T-shirt with a butterfly perched on his hand.

Indonesia's foreign ministry said Obama's visit to holiday in Indonesia came after several invitations from President Joko Widodo.

While in the capital, Obama will meet Widodo on June 30 and give a speech at an Indonesian diaspora convention the next day.

Former United States President Barack Obama with his wife Michelle and
 daughters Malia and Sasha arrived in Bali on Friday (23/06) to stay in 
Indonesia until early July. (Reuters Photo/Yuri Gripas)

Related Article:

Saturday, June 24, 2017

California man visits Disneyland 2,000 days in a row

Yahoo – AFP, 23 June 2017

California man visits Disneyland 2,000 days in a row

Los Angeles (AFP) - As one of the world's largest entertainment companies, Disney is used to adoring fans but one man has topped them all, visiting its California theme park 2,000 days in a row.

Jeff Reitz marked the milestone on Thursday, using his Disneyland Resort annual pass which had enabled his trek to the park on a daily basis since January 1, 2012.

"What we mostly know about him is that he loves Disneyland," said John McClintock, a spokesman for the theme park.

"When I asked him what he likes about the park, he said he likes all the shows and all the attractions but he did mention that he really likes to listen to the music in the park," he added. "I guess he finds it relaxing."

McClintock said Disney has yet to come across someone as enamored with the park as Reitz, an Air Force veteran in his 40s who usually shows up after work and spends a few hours.

"His girlfriend frequently comes with him but not every day," he said. "That would be true love, wouldn't it?"

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Taboo-breaking liberal mosque opens in Berlin

Yahoo – AFP, Yannick PASQUET, June 17, 2017

Lawyer and women's rights activist Seyran Ates opened the
Ibn-Rushd-Goethe-Mosque with words of welcome before Christian and
Jewish guests and a large media contingent (AFP Photo/John MACDOUGALL)

Berlin (AFP) - With a mission to spread a liberal form of Islam, a mosque where men and women pray side by side has opened its doors in Berlin, complete with female imams.

The Arabic phrase "Allahu Akbar" ('God is greatest') resonated through the crowded Ibn-Rushd-Goethe-Mosque Friday as US-Malaysian Ani Zonneveld, one of the world's few female imams, launched the call to prayer.

Then one of the founders of the new place of worship, lawyer and women's rights activist Seyran Ates, opened the event with words of welcome before Christian and Jewish guests and a large media contingent.

"We want to send a signal against Islamic terror and the misuse of our religion," said Turkish-born Ates, 54, dressed in a long white robe. "We want to practise our religion together."

Ates -- no stranger to breaking taboos, having called for a "sexual revolution" in the Muslim world -- vowed she would not allow ultra-conservatives "to rob me of my right to be Muslim".

Kneeling on green carpets, the faithful -- men and women, side by side -- bowed to Mecca for the traditional prayer as the imam spoke in German.

Some of the women wore veils or head coverings, others did not.

'Depoliticise' Islam

The new mosque, the 88th in the German capital, is located in a rented room on the third floor of the Protestant Johanniskirche (St. John's Church) building.

Founded by Seyran Ates, the mosque aims to establish a humanistic, 
secular and liberal reading of Islam (AFP Photo/John MACDOUGALL)

All Muslims -- Sunni or Shia, Alawite or Sufi -- are welcome in the mosque named after one of Germany's greatest writers, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and 12th century Islamic scholar Ibn Rushd, also known as Averroes.

The seven founding members said they want to open their prayer hall to all groups, including gays and lesbians.

"This mosque allows Muslims to define themselves in a new way," said co-founder and German Islam scholar Abdel-Hakim Ourghi.

He added that "we will try to depoliticise Islam", as the religion was being torn by rival political movements. "Because religion is a private matter."

Police stood guard outside the entrance of the building.

The founders said they had not received any threats or insults, but that they fully expected not everyone would be happy.

Time for change

Germany, with some four million Muslims, has been the target of jihadist attacks, the deadliest last December when a truck tore through a Berlin Christmas market crowd killing 12 people.

Seyran Ates -- who has campaigned against forced marriages,
domestic violence and so-called "honour killings" among Muslim
migrants -- said the project was eight years in the making (AFP

The arrival of more than one million refugees, most from mainly Muslim countries, since 2015 has worsened the fears of some Germans.

Ates -- who has campaigned against forced marriages, domestic violence and so-called "honour killings" among Muslim migrants -- said the project was eight years in the making.

"Many left along the way," she said. "They told us it was dangerous, that they were afraid."

Elham Manea, a Swiss political scientist of Yemeni background, said the time had come for change, with other so-called liberal mosques having also opened in the United States, Britain and Switzerland.

The Berlin mosque, financed by private donations, is located in the Berlin district of Moabit, which has a large immigrant population.

It was in this neighbourhood that Tunisian Anis Amri, the Christmas market attacker, frequented a radical mosque that has since been closed.

Pakistani human rights activist Mukhtar Mai (C) receives a standing ovation
as she takes the stage following performance of the opera 'Thumbprint', at
the Roy and Edna Disney/Calarts Theater (REDCAT) in Los Angeles, on
June 16, 2017 (AFP Photo/Robyn Beck)

Related Articles:

Yassmine el Ksaihi poses in the prayer hall of the Polder Mosque in Amsterdam, 
Netherlands, Tuesday, March 2, 2010. Uniquely in the Netherlands, men and 
women pray together in her mosque, albeit segregated, with the women praying
 in the back of the prayer hall. Devotions and sermons are conducted mostly in
 Dutch rather than Arabic. And non-Muslims are welcome. Across Europe Muslims
 are seeking a formula that lets them be an inseparable part of their country while
 maintaining their loyalty to their faith and origin. (AP Photo/ Evert Elzinga)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Obama to Give First Post-Presidential Speech in Asia at Indonesian Diaspora Convention

Jakarta Globe, Sheany, June 12, 2017

Former United States President Barack Obama will open the 4th Congress of
the Indonesian Diaspora on July 1 in Jakarta. (Reuters Photo/John Gress)

Jakarta. Former United States President Barack Obama will open the 4th Congress of the Indonesian Diaspora on July 1 in Jakarta, the chairman of the Indonesian Diaspora Global Network, or IDGN, Dino Patti Djalal said on Monday (12/06).

"We have received confirmation that the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, will deliver the keynote address to the 4th Congress of the Indonesian Diaspora on July 1," Dino said during a press conference in Jakarta.

He added that Obama has always been a special friend of Indonesia and an inspiration to many Indonesians.

Obama spent his early childhood years in Jakarta. He moved to the capital city in October 1967 and lived here for three and a half years. During his time serving as US president, Obama often talked about his memories of Jakarta whenever he met Indonesian officials.

Barry, as he was called in his old elementary school in Menteng, a suburb in Central Jakarta, has an Indonesian-born stepsister called Maya Soetoro.

According to Dino, Obama is visiting Indonesia to fulfill an invitation from President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to go on a vacation in the archipelago.

Obama has traveled to several countries, including Italy and Germany, since leaving office. Last Tuesday, Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made headlines after Trudeau posted a photo on Facebook of them sharing a meal in a booth in Montreal, Canada.

The New York Times reported that Obama will travel to South Korea in July, where he plans to see former South Korean president Lee Myung-bak.

Dino added that Obama’s keynote address on July 1 will be his first speech in Asia, after reportedly delivering a private paid speech during a visit to Italy.

"[Confirming Obama’s attendance] took us a while. We sent a proposal and it took around 4 to 5 months to receive a confirmation from his office," Dino said.

"We don't know what Obama's speech will be about, but we have proposed two main themes to him: globalization and pluralism."

There are approximately six to eight million Indonesian diaspora, according to Dino. Most of them – around two million – are migrant workers (TKI). According to data, most overseas-based Indonesians live in Malaysia, the United States, Singapore, South Korea, China and Qatar.

The Congress of Indonesian Diaspora is a biennial event organized by IDGN – a network established in 2012 in Los Angeles. This year's event will take place from July 1 to 4 at Kota Kasablanka, a mall in South Jakarta.

The public will get a chance to attend Obama's address by taking part in a Twitter competition. After registering through the congress’ event page on Eventbrite, contestants will be asked to share photos of their acts of kindness, which will then be selected by the organizers for the chance to see Obama speak at the convention. Around 2,000 seats are reserved for the public.

The congress will be open to the public on July 1, with a total of 12 sessions featuring high-profile speakers available. They include migrant workers activist Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, singer Anggun C. Sasmi, mayor of Bandung Ridwan Kamil, Indonesian-born American actress Tania Gunadi, co-founder and director of Marvell Technology Group Sehat Sutardja, Sillicon Valley's technology executive Sonita Lontoh and Asian Development Bank Vice President Bambang Susantono.

The convention is expected to be the largest gathering of Indonesian diaspora, with 5,000 participants from Indonesia and abroad.

For more information on the 4th Congress of the Indonesian Diaspora, visit

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Indonesian 'rainbow village' is internet sensation

Yahoo – AFP, May 31, 2017

An Indonesian hamlet dubbed "the rainbow village" after being given a makeover
in a kaleidoscope of colours is attracting hordes of visitors and has become
an internet sensation. (AFP Photo/SURYO WIBOWO)

An Indonesian hamlet dubbed "the rainbow village" after being given a makeover in a kaleidoscope of colours is attracting hordes of visitors and has become an internet sensation.

The collection of about 200 modest homes on a hillside above a river used to be a typical, low-income Indonesian neighbourhood that was filthy and gloomy.

But residents of the Wonosari community in Semarang decided an extreme makeover was needed, and received money from the local government and several companies to carry out the project.

The houses were re-painted in a dizzying array of colours during a month-long overhaul which cost about $200,000, and the polluted river nearby was also cleaned up.

The local mayor opened the newly decorated hamlet on Java island to the public in mid-April and the community quickly became a local landmark known as "the rainbow village".

The buildings -- many of which are decorated with art such as pictures of angels' wings and whales -- can be seen for miles around, climbing up the hillside like a gigantic staircase.

Domestic and foreign visitors have been flocking to the village to snap pictures, which have been rapidly spreading on Instagram and Facebook.

The brightly coloured buildings in Semerang, Indonesia -- many of which are 
decorated with art such as pictures of angels' wings and whales -- can be 
seen for miles around. (AFP Photo/SURYO WIBOWO)

"This is very special, extremely creative," Maya Susanti, an Indonesian visitor who came to the village with her friends told AFP.

"The village used to look plain but now there are so many good spots for taking pictures."

Community leader Yosep Tri Prawoko added: "Every single alleyway has become a favourite spot for a photoshoot, it's great."

Villagers are enjoying the tourism boom sparked by the makeover.

Surani, a local flower seller who like many Indonesians goes by one name, said local people were feeling the benefits: "I hope our livelihoods keep on getting better."

The makeover and flow of visitors has also encouraged residents to keep the community clean, and rubbish bins have been put up around the hamlet.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Australian trafficker Corby back home amid media storm

Yahoo – AFP, May 27, 2017

Australian Schapelle Corby was jailed after being arrested in Bali in 2004 with
marijuana stashed in her surfing gear (AFP Photo/SONNY TUMBELAKA)

Australian Schapelle Corby returned home Sunday following her deportation from Bali 12 years after her conviction for drug trafficking, as she battled through a media storm in a dramatic end to a saga that captivated her homeland.

Corby and her sister Mercedes avoided cameras when she touched down in the eastern city of Brisbane early on Sunday morning, with live television broadcasts showing a convoy of vehicles believed to be carrying them leaving the airport.

"It is with gratefulness and relief that this morning we mark Schapelle Corby's return to Australia," a member of her security team said, reading out a family statement at Brisbane airport.

"We would like to say thank you to Schapelle's supporters for all the faith, love and support they have shown over the years... Priority of focus will now be on healing and moving forward."

The beauty school dropout hit the headlines in Australia when she was arrested in 2014 at Bali airport with several kilos of hashish stashed in her surfing gear, and was jailed the following year for 20 years.

Corby, now 39, maintained her innocence, insisting the drugs had been planted, and received much support back home where some believed she had been set up or was the victim of a supposedly corrupt justice system.

Her final day on the Indonesian resort island was a blaze of media attention, as she was hustled out of a villa with her face hidden under a scarf, and then chased by a huge pack of journalists before boarding a flight home.

In a final twist, she managed to outsmart the media by heading back to Brisbane on a different flight than had been widely expected, apparently to avoid travelling with a large contingent of reporters.

It was not clear if she was heading to her mother Rosleigh Rose's home in Loganlea, south of Brisbane, or to her sister's residence in the Gold Coast.

Day of drama

Her mother said this week she was worried about how Corby would adjust to living in Australia amid the media frenzy.

The family were also waiting for Corby to return home so she could help scatter her father's ashes at a secret location after his death nine years ago from cancer.

Corby was led out of the Bali villa, hidden under a scarf and wearing a pair of
 sunglasses, before being whisked away in a convoy that included armoured
vehicles. (AFP Photo/SONNY TUMBELAKA)

"Her dad and her were really close," Rose told the Gold Coast Bulletin on Friday.

"When we are all in touch, when it's the right time, we're going to put his ashes where he wanted... We can't do it without Schapelle."

The day of drama was a fitting finale to a story that has fascinated the Australian public like few others in recent times.

Unlike in Australia, Indonesia's press dubbed her "The Ganja Queen" and she received little sympathy from the public, who largely support the country's tough anti-drugs laws.

Corby's sentence was cut due to regular remissions and after an appeal to the president, and she served nine years behind bars. She was released early in 2014 but was required to remain on Bali for three years under the conditions of her parole.

Australian media descended on Bali en masse ahead of her homecoming, camping out outside her villa for several days as Corby did her best to stay hidden.

Hundreds of police were deployed to provide security on Saturday. Corby was led out of the villa in the afternoon, hidden under the scarf and wearing a pair of sunglasses, before being whisked away in a convoy that included armoured vehicles.

She headed first to government offices to fill out documents. "Good bye to this parole paperwork," she posted on her Instagram account, which already had over 67,000 followers just a few hours after being set up.

She later posted a photo of her looking out of a plane window, with the word "Boarded".

Corby then headed to the airport, boarding a flight on airline Malindo Air at 10:00 pm (1400 GMT). She had been widely expected to fly on a Virgin service leaving 10 minutes later. Australian journalists had been booked to travel on the Virgin flight, Australian media reported.

Despite the controversy surrounding her case, Indonesia has stepped up its campaign against drug use since she was jailed.

Authorities have embarked on a campaign of executions targeting drug smugglers, and in April 2015 put to death two Australians along with six other foreigners.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Indonesian men caned for gay sex before jeering crowd

Yahoo – AFP, Nurdin Hasan, May 23, 2017

The two men received 83 strokes of the cane each after being found guilty
of breaking sharia rules in conservative Aceh province (AFP Photo/

Banda Aceh (Indonesia) (AFP) - Two Indonesian men were caned Tuesday in front of a jeering crowd as a punishment for gay sex, in a first for the Muslim-majority country where there is mounting hostility towards the small LGBT community.

The pair received 83 strokes of the cane each after being found guilty of breaking sharia rules in conservative Aceh province, the only part of Indonesia that implements Islamic law.

The men, aged 20 and 23, were led onto a raised stage outside a mosque in front of a crowd of thousands, who jeered and booed loudly.

The pair, whose identities have not been revealed, were dressed in white robes and bowed their heads as they were whipped by officials wearing brown cloaks and masks with eye slits.

One of the men grimaced occasionally and the other showed little emotion.

Before the caning, Abdul Gani Isa, a member of the Acehnese clerics' council, told the crowd the caning was "a lesson for the public".

"Lessons carried out with our sharia law are conducted in a very thoughtful way, are educational and do not violate human rights," he said.

Their sentences, which were carried out in the provincial capital Banda Aceh, were reduced by two strokes of the cane due to time already served in detention.

The caning took place in conservative Aceh province but gay sex is not illegal 
elsewhere in Indonesia, which has the world's biggest Muslim population

The gay men were caught together in March by vigilantes who burst into the house where they were staying.

Shaky phone footage of the raid that circulated online showed the vigilantes kicking, slapping and insulting the men, with one of them slumped naked on the ground during the attack.

Anti-gay sentiment

Public caning has long been common for offences such as gambling and drinking in Aceh, which was given the right to implement sharia law in 2001 as part of a deal with the central government aimed at ending an insurgency.

The punishment is carried out with thin rattan canes, with people still clothed while the strokes are delivered. It causes pain but does not normally inflict permanent damage, and the canings are as much about public humiliation as hurting those guilty of breaking sharia law.

Tuesday's caning was the first time such a punishment has been meted out for gay sex since a sharia regulation came into force two years ago banning the practice.

Eight other men and women were publicly caned on the same day after being found guilty of breaking sharia laws.

Gay sex is not illegal elsewhere in Indonesia, which has the world's biggest Muslim population.

While rights groups have repeatedly expressed alarm over the strengthening of sharia law in Aceh, many of those living in the staunchly Islamic province support the rules.

The two men were sentenced after a trial at a sharia court in Banda Aceh last 

Zubaidah, a 20-year-old female college student who watched the couple being punished, told AFP it was the first time she had witnessed a caning.

"I wanted to watch it so it could serve as a lesson for me not to commit any act that violates Islamic teaching," said the student, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

"Homosexuality is a curable disease, it is very forbidden in Islam."

Amnesty International was among groups that had urged authorities not to flog the men, decrying the use of caning as a "cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment".

There has been a growing backlash against Indonesia's small lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community over the past year, with ministers, hardliners and influential Islamic groups lining up to publicly denounce homosexuality.

The caning comes just two days after police in Jakarta detained 141 men including several foreigners for allegedly taking part in a gay sex party in a sauna.

Although homosexuality is not illegal outside Aceh, police said 10 of those arrested at the party could be charged under the country's tough anti-pornography laws.

The backlash against the homosexual community began in early 2016, and activists believe it was triggered by widespread media coverage of a decision in the United States to legalise same-sex marriage.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Jakarta's Christian governor jailed for two years for blasphemy

Yahoo – AFP, May 9, 2017

Jakarta's Christian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (bottom L), is convicted of
blasphemy and sentneced to two eyars in prison, May 9, 2017 (AFP Photo/

Jakarta (AFP) - Jakarta's Christian governor was jailed for two years Tuesday after being found guilty of committing blasphemy, capping a saga seen as a test of religious tolerance in the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation.

Presiding judge Dwiarso Budi Santiarto told the Jakarta court that Basuki Tjahaja Purnama was "convincingly guilty of committing blasphemy and is sentenced to two years in prison".

He ordered Purnama, known by his nickname Ahok, to be detained. Purnama said: "We will file an appeal." Islamic hardliners outside the court cheered as news of verdict emerged and shouted "God is greatest".

Purnama was hauled into court last year to face trial for allegedly insulting Islam while campaigning for re-election in a case critics said was politically motivated.

The trial came after a series of major protests against the capital's leader that drew hundreds of thousands onto the streets.

His once unassailable opinion poll lead shrank amid the controversy and he lost the race to lead Jakarta last month to a Muslim challenger, a result that fuelled fears of Indonesia's moderate brand of Islam coming under threat from increasingly influential radicals.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Borobudur Third on National Geographic's List of Iconic Adventure Tourism Sites

Jakarta Globe, Diella Yasmine, May 02, 2017

Borobudur Temple in Magelang, Central Java, has been ranked in third place
 among 15 iconic adventure tourism sites around the world by National
Geographic magazine. (Photo courtesy of the Tourism Ministry)

Jakarta. Borobudur Temple in Magelang, Central Java, has been ranked in third place among 15 iconic adventure tourism sites around the world by National Geographic magazine.

Borobudur is the largest Buddhist temple in the world, comprising a total surface area of 2,500 square meters, and decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 600 Buddha statues.

The monument has been recognized by Unesco as a world heritage site since 1991.

"This is such a huge honor for us. Borobudur will help to accelerate tourism development in Indonesia," Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said in a statement on Tuesday (02/05).

The Ministry of Tourism also named Borobudur Temple as a world cultural masterpiece.

"After being featured in National Geographic magazine, Borobudur's fame will be raised, and with a regulation in lieu of law, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo will soon ratify the establishment of a tourism authority body," Arief said.

The minister said the travel article will raise curiosity among readers of the magazine to find more information on Borobudur, which eventually lead them to visit the site.

Arief believes Borobudur will become more famous globally.

"It's like a confirmation that Borobudur is indeed a world-class icon," he said, adding that the site is being developed into a major international tourist destination.

"If we want to be a global tourism player, we have to keep up with global tourism standards and Borobudur has everything necessary to fulfill that," Arief said.

The complete list of National Geographic's 16 iconic adventure sites is as follows:

1. Machu Picchu, Peru

2. Petra, Jordan

3. Borobudur, Indonesia

4. Acropolis, Greece

5. Great Wall, China

6. Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

7. Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

8. Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky

9. Provence lavender route, France

10. Avenue of Baobabs, Madagascar

11. Potala Palace, Lhasa, Tibet

12. Amber Fort in Jaipur, India

13. Sydney Harbor Bridge, Australia

14. Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy

15. Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany.

Friday, April 28, 2017

In Muslim Indonesia, tiny Jewish community lives on

Yahoo – AFP, Olivia Rondonuwu, April 27, 2017

In a remote corner of the Indonesian archipelago, a modest synagogue stands
 in a tiny Jewish community that has found acceptance despite rising intolerance
in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country

In a remote corner of the Indonesian archipelago, a modest synagogue stands in a tiny Jewish community that has found acceptance despite rising intolerance in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country.

The red-roofed building on Sulawesi island is the only synagogue in the nation of 255 million people. Here, unlike other parts of the country, the Jewish community feel safe to practise their faith openly.

"We can wear the kippah (Jewish skullcap) in the mall or anywhere we want, it's not a problem," Yobby Hattie Ensel, a Jewish leader from the nearby city of Manado told AFP.

In Tondano, the "Shaar Hasyamayim" synagogue sits close to several churches and residents of different religions live, work, and worship alongside each other without incident.

Indonesia has long been praised for its moderate, inclusive brand of Islam -- and this enclave of diversity is a testament to that.

But across the archipelago, intolerance has risen in recent years as more conservative forms of Islam have become popular, driven by increasingly vocal hardline groups.

Tensions in the Middle East, particularly between Israel and the Palestinians, spill over here and deepen religious divides.

Outside the safe haven on Sulawesi, those who refuse to hide their faith have faced hostility.

Yaakov Baruch, an Orthodox Jew who runs the Tondano synagogue, revealed how he was threatened with death in a Jakarta busy mall as he walked along with his pregnant wife.

"From a few floors up, they shouted at me 'Crazy Jew'," he told AFP, adding the group of men then ran towards him and demanded he remove his skullcap.

"They said to me: 'We don't want you to use your kippah in this country. If you continue to use it, we'll kill you'."

In 2013, the country's only other synagogue in the city of Surabaya was demolished. It had been the site of anti-Israel protests for years, and was sealed off by hardliners in 2009 and left to decay.

Indonesia's Jewish community faces practical challenges, such as access
to kosher food, which is not widely available in the Muslim-majority nation

Secret worship

Indonesian rabbi Benjamin Verbrugge concedes any flare-up of tensions in the Middle East provokes hostility towards the local faithful.

"Problems between Israelis and Palestinians are a liability for me -- when someone is stabbed there, it makes me uneasy here," he said.

Faced with such open hostility, the Jews in the capital worship in secret.

Last month Verbrugge, head of the United Indonesian Jewish Community (UIJC), held celebrations for the festival of Purim, traditionally one of the most joyous days in Judaism's calendar, hidden in a small hotel room with a handful of fellow worshippers.

The UIJC estimate there are around 200 practising the faith in the country, believed to be the descendants of traders from Europe and Iraq who came to Asia to trade. The organisation was set up to bring the nation's Jews together.

The Jewish population in Indonesia is believed to have peaked at around 3,000 in the years before World War II, according to Rotem Kowner, a professor from the University of Haifa in Israel.

The fact that those remaining are scattered across the archipelago means Verbrugge has to defy rules that forbid Jews from using electrical gadgets on the Sabbath to lead group prayers online via the LINE messaging app.

The small community also faces more practical challenges, such as the fact kosher food is not widely available in Indonesia, said Phinechas, a local convert to Judaism.

"I try my best to be a good Jew but I can't manage it 100 percent," he added.

But across the archipelago, intolerance has risen in recent years as more 
conservative forms of Islam have become popular, forcing some Jews to
hide their faith for fear of repercussions

Increasing intolerance

Faith-based tension has been mounting in Indonesia, undermining its pluralist reputation.

Christian churches and mosques where Muslim minorities pray have been closed due to pressure from hardliners. Shiites and Ahmadis -- regarded as heretics by some Sunnis -- have been forced from their homes in mob attacks and on occasion even killed.

Successive governments have been criticised for failing to tackle the radicals for fear of being accused of attacking Islam.

Due to their small number and the fact most live in the shadows, the nation's Jews have not been a major focus of radical Islamic anger in Indonesia and have largely escaped the serious attacks directed at other minorities.

But having a low profile also brings problems.

According to the law, freedom of worship is guaranteed for all religions, including Judaism, but in practice Jews cannot be honest about their faith.