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)



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.
"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. …

Monday, August 14, 2017

Record-breaking dance in Indonesia's Aceh promotes unity

Yahoo – AFP, August 13, 2017

Participants take part in a mass traditional Saman dance performance in Aceh
on Indonesia's Sumatra island on August 13, 2017

More than 10,000 people turned out in Indonesia's Aceh on Sunday to stage a record-breaking song and dance performance stressing the need to conserve a threatened national park in the westernmost province.

The men, clad in elaborate black and yellow traditional costumes, sat in neat rows, clapping their hands on their shoulders and laps and moving in an increasingly fast-paced rhythm to a traditional song.

The saman, or "the dance of a thousand hands", is one of the country's most popular. In 2011 it was included in the UNESCO list of items of intangible cultural heritage.

The event was aimed at attracting more visitors to the province, the head of the local tourism agency, Syafruddin, told AFP.

The men, mostly from the ethnic Gayo community, made occasional wave-like movements without breaking formation.

Their song focused on the importance of protecting the province's Mount Leuser National Park, home to rare Sumatran tigers and elephants, which is threatened by rampant poaching and rainforest destruction due to the expansion of palmoil plantations.

More than 10,000 people turned out in Indonesia's Aceh to stage a record-breaking
song and dance performance stressing the need to conserve a threatened national park

Thousands of spectators flocked to an open field tucked amid lush green hills in Gayo Lues district to watch the performance.

The Indonesian Museum of Record certified it as breaking a national record with 10,001 participants -- beating last year's record of 6,600.

The dance is usually accompanied by a song performed in unison. It emphasises teamwork, a symbol of unity.

"In the old days the lyrics were usually about spreading Islamic teachings. These days we can adjust the lyrics to deliver any message we wish to convey to the audience," Syafruddin said.

Aceh's international image has been tarnished by its public punishments under Sharia law, such as caning for homosexuality.

"I am very impressed with the performance, the dancers synchronised very well and it makes me proud as an Indonesian. It was incredible," Sarah, a visitor from Jakarta, told AFP.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Aborigines in Australia longer than previously thought: study

Yahoo – AFP, Martin PARRY, July 19, 2017

New evidence uncovered by a team of archaeologists and dating specialists,
 including the oldest ground-edge stone axe technology in the world, indicates
Aborigines arrived in Australia 65,000 years ago

Aboriginal people have been in Australia for at least 65,000 years, longer than previously thought, roaming the area alongside giant megafauna, scientists said in a finding that sheds fresh light on when modern humans left Africa.

Australian Aborigines are believed to be custodians of the oldest continuous culture on the planet, but when they first arrived has been a contested issue. Previous estimates have ranged from 47,000 to 60,000 years ago.

A key site in the debate is Madjedbebe, a remote rock shelter in northern Australia's Kakadu region that is the oldest-known human occupation area in the country.

New evidence uncovered by a team of archaeologists and dating specialists during a dig there, including the oldest ground-edge stone axe technology in the world, has pushed back their presence even further.

The findings, published in the journal Nature this week, set a new minimum age for the dispersal of modern humans out of Africa and across south Asia.

"It's hugely significant in tying down what happened," the University of Queensland's Chris Clarkson, the lead author who led the team that excavated the site, most recently in 2015, told AFP.

"It means that we can set the minimum age for modern humans coming out of Africa, which until now has been a bit tenuous. We can now say with certainty that they arrived in Australia 65,000 years ago."

New evidence uncovered during a dig in Madjedbebe, a remote rock shelter 
in northern Australia's Kakadu region, sheds fresh light on when modern
humans left Africa

It also indicates that they arrived on the continent before the extinction of Australian megafauna such as giant wombats, kangaroos and lizards.

In addition to showing the deep antiquity of Aboriginal occupation, the dig also revealed evidence of activities and complex lifestyle, including flaked stone tools and grinding stones.

"The site contains the oldest ground-edge stone axe technology in the world, the oldest-known seed-grinding tools in Australia and evidence of finely made stone points which may have served as spear tips," said Clarkson.

"Most striking of all in a region known for its spectacular rock art are the huge quantities of ground ochre and evidence of ochre processing found at the site, from the older layer continuing through to the present."

It was clear the population was "technologically sophisticated".

First major water crossing

Some 11,000 artefacts were discovered in the lowest layer from the 2015 dig, with the team carefully assessing the position of each one to ensure they matched the ages of the sediments in which they were found.

New findings from excavations at Madjedbebe, a rock shelter in northern 
Australia's Kakadu region that is the oldest-known human occupation area 
in the country, show Aborigines arrived thousands of years earlier than 
previously thought

Extensive dating by optically stimulated luminescence methods -- which estimates the time since mineral grains were last exposed to sunlight -- showed a general pattern of increasing age with depth, and provided a timeframe that the scientists said was far more accurate than before.

The new dates for Madjedbebe fit well with genetic analyses indicating modern humans left Africa between 60,000 and 80,000 years ago.

At that time, there were much lower sea levels and the crossing distance from the islands of Southeast Asia to Australia was shorter than today.

"This would have been the first major water crossing ever by humanity," said Clarkson.

The Mirarr clan, traditional owners of large parts of Kakadu and western Arnhem Land, have now closed access to Madjedbebe, but applications have been made by archaeologists to examine other sites in the area to see if they have the same sequences.

"This study confirms the sophistication of the Australian Aboriginal toolkit and underscores the universal importance of the Jabiluka area," said Justin O'Brien, chief executive of the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, which works to advance the interests of the Mirarr.

"These findings reinforce the need for the highest level of conservation and protection for this site."

Related Articles:





Thursday, July 20, 2017

Surf's up! N. Korea tourism agency tries to woo foreigners

Yahoo – AFP, July 19, 2017

Pyongyang city skyline: the national tourism agency is wooing visitors

North Korea's tourism agency has launched a website offering holiday options ranging from surfing to rice planting, despite strong US warnings to avoid travel to a nation where several trips have ended in jail.

Sixteen Americans have been detained in the past decade in North Korea, including 22-year-old student Otto Warmbier who was given a long prison term for stealing a hotel propaganda banner. He was sent home in a coma in June but died several days later.

The "DPR Korea Tour" website, run by the North's National Tourism Administration, depicts the country -- which is subject to stiff sanctions over its weapons programmes -- as just another tourist destination.

It introduces package trips to various parts of the country including the capital Pyongyang, and offers various "theme tours" for travellers seeking something more unusual.

Visitors are invited to check out beaches on the east coast, including the Majon Bathing Beach, where "surfing has come into vogue among tourists" for its favourable conditions and clean water.

The website also provides basic travel information like air and train routes and ways to get around Pyongyang using public transport such as cabs and buses.

However, it does not allow users to book tours directly and does not list the handful of foreign agencies that arrange trips to the isolated state.

The site is available in Korean, English, Chinese, Russian and Japanese and can be found at tourismdprk.gov.kp. The country's official name is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The US State Department strongly warns Americans against travelling to North Korea, citing "serious risk of arrest and long-term detention".

Canada, Australia and New Zealand are among other nations giving similar warnings.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Grand Imam of Istiqlal Mosque Calls for Preservation of Indonesia's Diversity

Jakarta Globe, July 07, 2017


Jakarta. Nasaruddin Umar, the grand imam of the Istiqlal Mosque in Central Jakarta, said Indonesian communities should preserve their diversity by continuing to celebrate the differences and dynamics between them.

Speaking at an Idul Fitri gathering hosted by the Lippo Group in Karawaci, Banten, on Thursday (06/07), the former religious affairs minister said the country's people should strive to overcome these differences.

"The most important issue for Indonesia now is to acquaint ourselves, our younger generation, to get accustomed to a pluralistic lifestyle," said Nasaruddin, who heads the capital's largest mosque.

"If we are already living with diversity, the entire world will become jealous of us, as we, Indonesia, with more than 15,000 islands, may create a [new] model culture," he added.

Nasaruddin described diversity in Indonesia as beautiful, calling for its preservation.

"Being different is beautiful, so it is better to celebrate differences," he said, adding that these differences should not cause any problems.

He further highlighted tolerance as the best way to accept diversity in Indonesia.

"Tolerance may be present in our hearts and minds if we have the capacity to accept differences. There is no tolerance without acceptance of others [who are different from us]. Indonesia is a laboratory for tolerance in the world," he said.

Related Article:

"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration LecturesGod / CreatorReligions/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)

“.   New Tolerance

Look for a softening of finger pointing and an awakening of new tolerance. There will remain many systems for different cultures, as traditions and history are important to sustaining the integrity of culture. So there are many in the Middle East who would follow the prophet and they will continue, but with an increase of awareness. It will be the increase of awareness of what the prophet really wanted all along - unity and tolerance. The angel in the cave instructed him to "unify the tribes and give them the God of Israel." You're going to start seeing a softening of intolerance and the beginning of a new way of being.

Eventually, this will create an acknowledgement that says, "You may not believe the way we believe, but we honor you and your God. We honor our prophet and we will love you according to his teachings. We don't have to agree in order to love." How would you like that? The earth is not going to turn into one belief system. It never will, for Humans don't do that. There must be variety, and there must be the beauty of cultural differences. But the systems will slowly update themselves with increased awareness of the truth of a new kind of balance. So that's the first thing. Watch for these changes, dear ones. ...."

Monday, July 3, 2017

World-Class Tourist Attractions and Nostalgia Bring Obama Back to Indonesia

Jakarta Globe, July 02, 2017

Barack Obama at Prambanan Temple near Yogyakarta on Thursday (29/06).
(Antara Photo/Fitri Atmoko)

Jakarta. Nostalgia brought former United States President Barack Obama back to Bali, Yogyakarta and Jakarta for a holiday with his family this week. The visit has also highlighted many world-class tourist attractions in Indonesia, including the great Buddhist and Hindu temples of Java.

Obama, the 44th US President, was born in Hawaii but spent some of his childhood in Indonesia after his mother Ann Dunham married an Indonesian man, Lolo Soetoro, in 1965.

His stepfather Lolo, who was geographer, returned to Indonesia in 1966 to help create maps of Papua.

Along with his mother, Obama, who was six years old at the time, moved to join his stepfather in Jakarta in 1967 and lived in the country until 1971.

When they lived in Indonesia, Obama's family frequently traveled to Yogyakarta where his mother, who was an anthropologist, carried out a research on village industries.

Obama, with his wife Michelle and his two daughters, visited the Buddhist temple Borobudur and the Hindu temple Prambanan near Yogyakarta and Becici Peak during their trip, visits which Obama indicated brought up strong feelings of nostalgia.

The trip has even made some international headlines. American fashion and lifestyle bible Vogue published an article about the holiday titled "President Obama’s Trip to an Ancient Indonesian City Had a Deeply Personal Meaning."

The family spent three days in Yogyakarta after spending five days in Bali, before delivering a speech at the 4th Indonesian Diaspora Congress in Jakarta.

Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said Obama's visit is a perfect endorsement for the country's Wonderful Indonesia tourism campaign since it highlights Indonesia's top tourist destinations, including the resort island of Bali, the royal city of Yogyakarta and the capital city of Jakarta.

"[Obama's visit] brings great media value and should attract many people to visit Indonesia. Thank you Obama," Arief said in a statement sent to the Jakarta Globe on Saturday (01/07).

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Obama calls for tolerance and unity in childhood home Indonesia

Yahoo – AFP, July 1, 2017

Former US President Barack Obama waves to the audience alongside Indonesian
media figure Eddy Kusnadi Sariaatmadja (C) and former Indonesian Ambassador
 to the United States Dino Patti Djalal during the 4th Congress of Indonesian
Diaspora in Jakarta (AFP Photo/ADEK BERRY)

Jakarta (AFP) - Barack Obama called for tolerance and respect in his childhood home of Indonesia Saturday, amid rising religious tensions in the country where the former US president spent four years as a boy.

At the end of a 10-day family holiday, Obama spoke to a packed crowd in the capital Jakarta, where he praised the spirit of tolerance in Indonesia, saying you could see mosques, temple and churches alongside each other.

"That spirit is one of the defining things about Indonesia, the most important characteristics to set as an example for other Muslim countries around the world," Obama said.

The 44th president of the United State then said: "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika," -- Indonesia's motto, which means unity in diversity, prompting huge cheers from the crowd of thousands of leaders, business people and students at the Fourth Congress of Indonesian Diaspora.

Obama lived in Indonesia when he was a six-year-old boy with his mother, an anthropologist, and his Indonesian stepfather and half-sister.

His mother later divorced and Obama moved back to Hawaii at the age of 10 to live with his grandparents.

The Muslim-majority country has recently seen a rise in Islamic radicalism.

Its track record as a tolerant nation is being tested after former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama -– an ethnic Chinese Christian -- lost Jakarta's mayoral election in April against a prominent Muslim candidate.

Purnama was later sentenced to two years prison in May for blasphemy over comments he made about the Koran which divided the nation and stirred up issues of religion and ethnicity in the archipelago, which was long hailed by other countries for it's ability to tolerate different religious.

Prior to Jakarta, Obama and his family visited the resort island of Bali and the ancient city of Yogyakarta which is known for its temples.

The Obamas will leave Indonesia for South Korea on Sunday.


Saturday, July 1, 2017

Obama visits childhood home Jakarta

Yahoo – AFP, June 30, 2017

Former US president Barack Obama (L) walks next to Indonesian President
Joko Widodo (R) during their a visit at the Botanical Garden adjacent to
the Presidential Palace complex in Bogor on June 30

Former US president Barack Obama arrived Friday in his former childhood home Jakarta, where he met Indonesia's president at the end of a ten-day family holiday.

Indonesia's President Joko Widodo met with Obama at the presidential palace on the outskirts of Jakarta, with Obama delighting local media by greeting Widodo with "apa kabar" -- how are you in Indonesian.

The former first family arrived a week ago on the resort island of Bali and then visited the historic Yogyakarta city in central Java before coming to the capital.

President Widodo took Obama to a cafe in the botanical garden next to the palace, where he sampled traditional snacks and ate a bowl of meatball soup.

Obama spent four years in Indonesia in the late 1960s in the then-sleepy capital Jakarta after his mother married an Indonesian man, following the end of her marriage to his Kenyan father.

Many Indonesians feel a strong bond with Obama because of his early exposure to Indonesian culture, and a two-metre (six-foot) bronze statue has been placed in his former school.

Former US president Barack Obama (L), riding in a golf cart, gestures as he 
speaks with Indonesian President Joko Widodo in the driver's seat during a 
visit at the Botanical Garden adjacent to the Presidential Palace complex 
in Bogor on June 30

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

Obama is travelling with his wife and their two teenage daughters.

Prior to Jakarta, they toured a Hindu temple wearing traditional sarongs, walked through terraced rice paddy fields and white water rafted in Bali.

They also visited ancient Buddhist and Hindu temples on Yogyakarta.

Obama is expected to give a speech about pluralism and tolerance at an Indonesian diaspora convention on Saturday before wrapping up his tropical holiday in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country.

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 Beritasatu.com.

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
Obama (AFP Photo/SONNY TUMBELAKA)

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
Photo/John MACDOUGALL)

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)

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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 www.cdi4.info

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.