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. …

Monday, August 27, 2012

Watatita: Idul Fitri in Malang Sparks Hope for the Country's Religious Issues

Jakarta Globe, Alexia Cahyaningtyas, August 27, 2012

 (Drawings by Alexia Cahyaningtyas)

Among the religious violence and discrimination that this country often experiences, the people of Malang, East Java prove that religious appreciation is still possible. On Idul Fitri, The Kayutangan Catholic Church in Malang welcomed the Muslim citizens in the area to pray at the church’s courtyard.

Photographs of people praying in the courtyard went viral on the Internet and the church has been receiving a lot of praise all over social networks.

This is wonderful to hear and shouldn't be an amazing news because circumstances like this should happen everywhere and as often as possible.

In Malang, this is nothing new; the Christians have been lending the churches to the Muslims for Idul Fitri for years. Even during Christmas, the Muslims help their counterparts with ensuring security in the churches.

If religious differences are not a problem in Malang, why should it be an issue in other places in Indonesia? I guess the extremists who think they are the most righteous, the holiest, the most religious should learn a lot from the people in this city. We can all live together despite our differences.

Malang is a city located 90 kilometers south of the capital city of East Java, Surabaya. This city is also well known for its diverse cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds. There are Muslims, Christians, Catholics, Buddhists, Hindus and even the Kong Hu Cus.

You can find so many Islamic boarding schools there, but at the same time, there are also many Hindu temples scattered around the area. Malang is also a big center for Christian religious education.

The last time I went to Malang, which wasn’t so long ago, I visited a place where they perform Wayang Potehi, or Chinese Puppets, and the place is well maintained and is still regularly attended by both the Indonesian Chinese and the Javanese.

The city of Malang has shown that hope is still here and we can educate other people about religious tolerance and appreciation. If this can happen in Malang, it can happen in Jakarta, Sumatra, Banten, basically everywhere throughout the archipelago.

Churches, mosques, temples, monasteries, synagogues are all houses of God. We have different ways, different rituals to pray to God, but we all pray to the same God.

"Perceptions of God" – June 6, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Quantum TeachingThe Fear of God, Near-death ExperienceGod Becomes Mythology, Worship, Mastery, Intelligent Design, Benevolent CreatorGlobal Unity.... etc.(Text version)

“.. For centuries you haven't been able to think past that box of what God must be like. So you create a Human-like God with wars in heaven, angel strife, things that would explain the devil, fallen angels, pearly gates, lists of dos and don'ts, and many rules still based on cultures that are centuries old. You create golden streets and even sexual pleasures as rewards for men (of course) - all Human perspective, pasted upon God. I want to tell you that it's a lot different than that. I want to remind you that there are those who have seen it! Why don't you ask somebody who has had what you would call a near-death experience?

SBY Orders Government Officials to Avert Future Shiite Attacks in Indonesia

Jakarta Globe, August 27, 2012

Mobile Brigade police officers escort women and children of Shia group
 during evacuation from their hiding place in Karanggayam and Bluuran villages,
 Sampang, East Java, on Monday. Police evacuated at least 182 Shiites following
an attack by a Sunni Muslim group. (Antara Photo)
Related articles

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Monday asked law enforcers and ministers to take swift and proper action to prevent further violence against Shia groups in Sampang, Madura, East Java after a recent attack on the sect took two lives.

“I have talked with the East Java governor... I hope there will be effective measures taken by all of you and your staffs to ensure these events will not repeatedly happen in the same place,” Yudhoyono told his ministers and some legal institution chiefs at a limited cabinet meeting, as quoted by Antara news agency.

During the meeting attended by the Justice and Human Rights Minister, the National Police chief, the Military chief and the Attorney General, the president said that similar attacks have occurred three times in the past few years.

“In the past two years, attacks have taken place twice, with another occurring once before.”

On Sunday at 11 AM, a mob of Sunni Muslims attacked a group of Shia students and teachers with swords and machetes in Sampang. According to Umi Kulsum, local people who were present at the scene said that two people, Hamama and Tohir, died in the attacks, while five were injured. The mob also torched thirty-five homes belonging to the Shiite community.

The Freedom of Religion and Faith Advocacy Working Group (AKBB) said that based on witness testimony, there were police officers present during the attack but they did not do anything to help quell the situation — they merely sat near where the violence occurred. Later in the afternoon, police evacuated 176 Shiites to Sampang sports stadium. Some of them had fled earlier to hide in the mountains and at family’s houses.

Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali cursed the attack, saying that religion teaches peace and not violence.

“Violence in the name of anything, especially in the name of religion or religious difference, can not be justified,” Suryadharma said. “Every problem that is raised from a difference in opinion should be solved through constructive conversation.”

He asked the local Religious Minister’s office to coordinate a dialogue on the issue.

Akhol Firdaus of the AKBB has criticized the police for failing to anticipate the attack, even though the plan of the attack had been disclosed before Idul Fitri fell.

“Police ignore the violence that has taken lives and caused material losses,” Akhol said. “The government has failed in providing security and guaranteeing the basic rights of Shiites in Sampang. The government has also failed to protect Shiites from systematic and well-planned threats of violence.”

On Dec. 29, Shiites in Nangkernang were also attacked by hard-line Muslim groups, who set fire to hundreds of homes and a Shia Islamic school, displacing 500 Shiites from their village.

After the cabinet meeting, President Yudhoyono commented that “heavy sanctions [against the perpetrators] may be good for our nation,” as quoted by “Under such conditions, it’s not easy for citizens or certain parties to violate the law.”

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Why the World, Including Indonesia, Would Be a Better Place if Women Were in Charge

Jakarta Globe, Henri Lois, August 25, 2012

Related articles

Steven Pinker wrote that over history, women have been a pacifying force. Traditional war is a man’s game: tribal women never band together to raid neighboring villages.

As mothers, women maintain peaceful conditions in which to nurture their offspring and ensure that their genes survive into the next generation.

“Women hold up half the sky,” in the words of the Chinese proverb, yet that’s mostly an aspiration; in the real world, women are uneducated marginalized.

In the 19th century, the paramount moral challenge was slavery. In the 20th century, it was totalitarianism. Today, it is the aggression against women around the world: sex trafficking, acid attacks, rape and so forth.

In 1988, one study found that 39,000 baby girls died annually in China because parents did not give them the same medical care that boys received.  

In India, a “bride burning” takes place approximately every two hours, to punish a woman for an inadequate dowry or to eliminate her so a man can remarry, according to various reports.

In addition, ultrasound machines have allowed pregnant women to find out the sex of the fetus — and then get an abortion if it is female.

In reality, women have helped make the world a better place for us all. Nearly 82 percent of jobs lost during the economic global slowdown have belonged to men, while most of the new jobs have gone to women. 

Former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan has said, “If there is one lesson we in the United Nations have learned over the years, it is that investing in women is the most productive strategy a country can pursue in order to raise economic productivity, improve nutrition and health, and educate the next generation.” 

When economist Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, he made it clear that it was women who made up the bulk of the poor but ambitious small-business owners, lifting their communities out of poverty with their entrepreneurship. Women are behind many of the primary drivers of social change.

The little secret of global poverty is that some of the most wretched suffering is caused by unwise spending by men. The poorest families in the world spend approximately 10 times as much (20 percent of their incomes on average) on a combination of alcohol, prostitution, candy, sugary drinks and lavish feasts as they do on educating their children (2 percent).

One way to reallocate family expenditures is to put more money in the hands of women. A series of studies has found that when women hold assets or gain incomes, family money is more likely to be spent on nutrition, medicine and housing, and consequently children are healthier.

In the United States, women earn 78 cents to a man’s dollar. Unlike men, however, women are more willing to take risks on smaller or new organizations they believe have a strong vision for change. Studies show women volunteer more than men. Women are the single most important market opportunity for changing the world.

In some parts of Indonesia, sadly, women are still considered second-class citizens. This can be seen from the remuneration levels for women at most companies, with men generally receiving higher pay.

In Indonesian politics, there have been initiatives to give women more representation in the House of Representatives, but no political party has achieved the 30 percent allotment.

More than 25 years ago, the futurist John Naisbitt talked about the future of the world. That was a time when Japanese companies were in the ascendancy, developing assets around the world.

At that time, Naisbitt had predicted that the United States would regain economic dominance simply because the country empowered its women to be economically productive.

In Japan, women have limited leadership or sway in the economy, politics and social development.

Research from sociological studies to the latest in brain science shows that above all, women value connection and community. For women, it’s not about “me,” it’s about “we.” That means women are less concerned about the pecking order and more committed to keeping harmony in the coop.

The heart of a woman is making the country spin. Women do more than just give birth. They give moral support to their family and friends. Women were created in the image of God and they are a complete and beautiful creation.  

Women have four times as many brain cells, or neurons, connecting the right and left sides of their brain, according to scientific reports.

Women can focus on more than one problem at a time and frequently prefer to solve problems through multiple activities at a time. Nation-building will progress tremendously and we will have a better life when women rule the world. At least some believe so, though men may shake their heads. 

Henri Lois is a teacher for hearing-impaired and autistic children in Jakarta

World Bank managing director Sri Mulyani Indrawati.
(EPA Photo/ Bagus Indahono)

"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 (Based in Greece, Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to built Africa to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) 

Friday, August 24, 2012

In North Sulawesi, Blossoming Flora and Beautiful People

Jakarta Globe, Benito Lopulalan, August 24, 2012

The opening parade for the Tomohon International Flower Festival.
(AFP Photo/Figman Sunandar)

Ayoung ballerina danced in the shade of a wooden replica of the Eiffel Tower.

Not in Paris, but in Tomohon, a mountainside town in North Sulawesi, where the little girl’s mother was born.

The girl, Michelle Tumorang, 12, had come to Sulawesi from Paris for the Tomohon International Flower Festival in early August, to represent France, the homeland of her father. Michelle danced in collaboration with some girls from the Nazareth orphanage in Tomohon. They performed in a flowery car decorated with French symbols and colors. Thirty-six countries participated in the festival.

Tomohon is situated in the heart of the Minahasa plateau. A fertile land with mineral-rich volcanic ash from several peaks, the area’s inhabitants have grown coffee since 1822.

More than a century ago, nature biologist Alfred Russel Wallace wrote in his famous “Malay Archipelago” about the Minahasa people: “They are of a light brown or yellow tint, often approaching the fairness of European; of a rather short stature. In some of the inland villages where they may be supposed to be of the purest race, both men and women are remarkably handsome.”

Many Indonesians share Wallace’s opinion about the Minahasa people’s beauty, even if they might take issue with claims they are the archipelago’s handsomest.

It is from the biologist that the Wallace line, which separates the eco-zones of Asia, draws its name. Flora and fauna to the west of the imaginary line are considered Asiatic, while there is a blend of Asian and Australian species to the east.

Approaching Tomohon from Manado in North Sulawesi in 1859, Wallace was impressed by the cleanliness of the villages he passed. The streets, he wrote, were “bordered by neat hedges often formed entirely of rose-trees, which are perpetually in blossom.”

More than a hundred years after Wallace traveled to Tomohon, the handsome Minahasans, especially the people from Tomohon, have retained their love of flowers.

“It is our habit to have a flower garden in the yard,” said Asry Lantomboba, a 24-year-old from Wolowan village in Tomohon. “Every time any of us go to other places and see beautiful plants or flowers that are not in our collection, we always find a way to bring it [the seed] home.”

In 2005, the Tomohon administration declared its intention to become “Kota Bunga,” or the City of Flowers. Not for romantic reasons, but to develop flower production to make money.

Many farmers now cultivate flowers alongside their usual vegetables.

“We have growing numbers of active flower farmer groups,” said Rita Mandagi, who helps coordinate farmers. “The groups help farmers to develop and market their products.”

Members of such collectives can get better prices for their flowers. In August, for example, the price for one piece was Rp 2,300 ($0.24) for members, but only Rp 1,300 for non-members.

With one quarter of a hectare, local farmer Robert Lembong, can produce 5,000 flowers in two months, earning him a profit of Rp 7 million.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Rusman Heriawan launched 21 flower varieties on the eve of the festival in Tomohon, which he said was a result of five years of hard work.

The minister said the national center of seed research and development can produce about one million seeds for the country’s needs.

Rusman has grand designs for Tomohon flower production. He envisions new varieties, seed and fresh flower production, and other products such as chrysanthemum tea or dried flowers.

Since 2009, Tomohon has chosen what flowers to produce based on the demands of the market, Rusman said.

“It is designed to enter the competitive market, so we have to listen to the flower market,” he said.

The Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry supported the festival. “Tomohon needs a better approach in promoting its destination and products,” the deputy minister said.

So if you come to Tomohon, you might pen something similar to what Wallace wrote about his breakfast there: “I had a good breakfast of coffee, eggs and fresh bread and butter which I took in the spacious verandah amid the odor of sweet-scented flowers.”

Sunnis and Shiites remain historical rivals

Deutsche Welle, 23 August 2012

The civil war in Syria is becoming a proxy war between Sunnis and Shiites, symbolized by Saudi Arabia and Iran. Their differences originated in the early days of Islam.

If the Prophet Mohammed had arranged a successor before his death in 632, the Islamic landscape could have turned out differently.

But as things turned out, the Prophet's fledging Islamic community disintegrated just 30 years after his death. The majority of Muslims joined a group that later became known as the Sunnis. A second group consisted of followers of Ali ibn Abi Talib, the cousin and son-in-law of Mohammed.

It is the "Shi' at Ali," the party of Ali from which the Shiites originated. Up to this day, the Shiites remain in the minority, accounting for between 10 to 15 percent of the more than 1.6 billion Muslims.

Early power games

A personnel controversy was sparked in 632 by the question of how to correctly select Prophet Mohammed's successor, according to Lutz Berger, an Islamic scholar at the University of Kiel. "At the beginning, we had a political conflict about personnel decisions and group interests," he said. "Then the political conflict turned religious." 

Protests followed the arrest of
a Shiite preacher in Saudi Arabia
The debate about the rightful successor of Prophet Mohammed initially focused on the four "rightly guided" caliphs, agreed on by a majority vote. In 660, the Omayyad dynasty came to power. For those selecting the caliphs, it was of paramount importance they be members of Mohammed's tribe, the Quraysh.

Followers of Ali, however, believed the Prophet's successor should come from Mohammed's family. They argued that God himself had appointed Ali as the successor, that Mohammed had this succession recorded in writing before his death and that the Sunni erased it from the Koran. To this day, the Koran forgery charge has not been clearly withdrawn.

According to Berger, Ali was ambitious and bothered by not being able to succeed as the Prophet's successor. Finally, in 656, he was appointed the fourth and last legitimate caliph. His reign lasted just five years - until he was assassinated.

In Damascus, the newly forming center of Islamic power, the Umayyads had the say, while Ali followers secured supremacy in the frontier province of what is now Iraq. In 680 Ali's youngest son, Hussein, was elected counter-caliph. That same year, he was murdered by the Umayyads and buried in Karbala. With that, the foundation was laid for the permanent division between the Sunni and Shiites as well as the martyrdom cult in Shia Islam.

Early hostility

"In some ways, the Shiites were history's losers," says Berger. Ali and his successors failed to prevail in the entire Islamic community, resulting in a rather negative worldview and presumably Shia's own worldview that is shaped by a concept of suffering and salvation.

Iranian Sunnis read the Koran

From a Shiite perspective, the religious leaders, the Imams, are chosen by God. At the end of time, a savoir will come to establish a divine kingdom of justice. Belief in the Imam is one of the main differences to the Sunnah, which is the passed down knowledge of Mohammed's words and deeds as guidance for Muslim life.

To Shiites, the Imam is a mediator between God and his follower because only the Imam alone knows the hidden meaning of the Koran and has the task of communicating it to the community. His teaching decisions are infallible; for the Shiites, his sayings have the same authority as the Koran.

For many Sunnis, that borders on heresy. "The Shiites are accused of deifying people and seeing in Ali, the Prophet's son-in-law and his successors as super-human figures, thus moving away from a basic principle of Islam; namely, that there is only one God and that people should not be worshiped.

Lasting consequences

If the Shiites see themselves more as losers by refusing to participate in the secular rule over the centuries, the "Sunnis, by comparison, are successful from the start," says Islamic scholar Berger. They were able to play down the conflicts of earlier times and viewed the Shiite domination claims as troublemaking. 

Iraqi Shiites rally at the ruins of
a Shrine in Samarra
Even if the Sunnis and Shiites define themselves through their mutual rejection – as Berger puts it – phases of peaceful coexistence have historically alternated with those of religious-motivated clashes. The current political conflicts in the Islamic world are often religiously charged and show the some of the traditional conflicts between Sunnah and Shia. There are many examples, such as the civil wars in Syria and Iraq or the long-simmering conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the only country where Shia is the state religion.

Worldwide, there are about 1.6 billion Muslims, of whom between 85 and 90 percent are estimated to be Sunnis. No exact numbers exist because many countries have no surveys of religious affiliation. Moreover, Shiites are not always willing to disclose their religious affiliation in a non-Shiite environment.

Countries from North Africa to the Sahara are mostly if not entirely Sunni. The same is true for Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Bangladesh. Syria and the Palestine regions, too, are largely Sunni.

Iran is the only country where Shia is the state religion. The majority of the population in Iraq and Bahrain is also Shiite. About one third of Lebanon's population is Shiite. Notable Shiite populations also exist in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Pakistan and Syria.

(Subjects: Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Muhammad, Jesus, God, Jews, Arabs, EU, US, Israel, Iran, Russia, Africa, South America, Global Unity,..... etc.) (Text version)

" ..... If an Arab and a Jew can look at one another and see the Akashic lineage and see the one family, there is hope. If they can see that their differences no longer require that they kill one another, then there is a beginning of a change in history. And that's what is happening now. All of humanity, no matter what the spiritual belief, has been guilty of falling into the historic trap of separating instead of unifying. Now it's starting to change. There's a shift happening. ....."

"Perceptions of God" – June 6, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)
(Subjects: Quantum TeachingThe Fear of God, Near-death ExperienceGod Becomes Mythology, Worship, Mastery, Intelligent Design, Benevolent Creator
Global Unity.... etc.(Text version)

“.. For centuries you haven't been able to think past that box of what God must be like. So you create a Human-like God with wars in heaven, angel strife, things that would explain the devil, fallen angels, pearly gates, lists of dos and don'ts, and many rules still based on cultures that are centuries old. You create golden streets and even sexual pleasures as rewards for men (of course) - all Human perspective, pasted upon God. I want to tell you that it's a lot different than that. I want to remind you that there are those who have seen it! Why don't you ask somebody who has had what you would call a near-death experience?

"Healing the Military Energies in our family Tree" – Jun 13, 2011 (Kryon channelled by David Brown)

“ … There’s much violence and anger throughout the world; when we look at the Middle East, we can see that changes are coming there. The West has a lot of power over the Middle East, but that power will begin to dissolve. The Muslim people of this world will begin to have their own power, and their own prosperity, and they will begin to disconnect from the Western World. This disconnection doesn’t have to be violent as violence only happens when somebody hangs onto what doesn’t belong to them....

... What Military Energy means if we use an analogy: it would be like putting grinding paste into the oil of your motor car. Once you release these energies you will begin to feel lighter as you disconnect from this reality, and, you will find it easier and easier to release any other negative emotions. Military Energies are the core of all your problems...."

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Unite Shiites and Sunnis in Indonesia

Jakarta Globe, Salim Osman - Straits Times, August 16, 2012

Indonesian Shiite cleric Tajul Muluk, right, was sentenced to two years
in prison for blasphemy in Sampang, East Java, on July 12, 2012. His
conviction  signals Indonesia's objection to Shiism becoming rooted in
the country. (AFP Photo).
Related articles

One day in December last year, Shiite preacher Tajul Muluk had to be rescued by the police after a mob torched his house, his Islamic boarding school and mosque in a violent rampage in Sampang, East Java.

He was not hurt. But in a twist of events, the preacher was subsequently detained by the police for allegedly insulting Islam in his teachings. His attackers, however, got away scot-free.

Last month, a district court sentenced the preacher to two years' jail for blasphemy against Islam. His conviction was based on the evidence of witnesses who testified he had told his followers the Qur'an was not original, that Muslims should pray three times a day instead of five, and that pilgrimage to Mecca was not compulsory.

He denied ever telling his followers that, and described the allegations as lies politically fabricated to convict him as a deviant.

The cleric became the first Shiite Muslim to be convicted of blasphemy in Muslim-majority Indonesia.

This is unprecedented as Shiism is part of Islamic orthodoxy, born during the political split over leadership succession after the death of Prophet Muhammad. Its status as a branch of Islam was reaffirmed by a conference of Shiite and Sunni clerics in Amman, Jordan, in July 2005. The recognition was also endorsed in December that year at a conference in Mecca to end the argument over whether Shiism is Islamic because of its theological differences with mainstream Sunni beliefs.

This has been acknowledged by the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI), the highest authority on Islam, which has never declared the sect as deviant, unlike its fatwa on the Ahmadiyah community for its belief in a prophet after Prophet Muhammad.

The case was reported in major newspapers in Jakarta but its significance escaped the attention of many Indonesians, who were fixated on the governor's election.

MUI chairman Umar Shihab followed the case closely and said the conviction was wrong. "(Shiite) religious teachings are not contrary to Islam," he said. "If he was indeed convicted because of his teachings, that would be regrettable."

Many others would find it baffling too in reconciling the prosecution of a Shiite as a deviant with Indonesia's treatment of Iran, a fellow Muslim country with Shiism as its official religion. Both are close allies in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the grouping that also includes Saudi Arabia.

Shiites are a minority in Indonesia, noticeable only after Iran's Islamic revolution in 1979 when some Sunnis converted to Shiism and Indonesian scholars returned from study in Qom, the seat of Shiite learning in Iran.

Before the Iranian revolution, there were small communities of Shiites, mainly Arab descendants from Yemen, who kept a low profile in deference to the Sunnis.

But Shiism is not entirely alien to Indonesia. Several of its elements are found in classical Indonesian literature and even in cultural traditions. One such tradition is the commemoration of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, Prophet Muhammad's grandson. However, the Shiite faith is not embedded in the religious beliefs of Indonesian Muslims.

The 1980s conversion of several activists raised the Shiite minority's profile. They have carved out a space for themselves as a well-defined religious community, with their own schools, mosques and civil society groups, publishing Shiite literature in Bahasa Indonesia that strengthens their presence.

In Sampang, a hamlet on the Madura island in East Java, Shiite converts started a community some years ago. Their presence caused a stir in this conservative Muslim region, sparking conflict with the Sunnis.

Since then, Sunni clerics in East Java have been campaigning to get them to return to Sunni Islam. They managed to get the local MUI chapter to declare Shiism as a deviant sect but it was not endorsed by its Jakarta headquarters.

Tajul's conviction signals Indonesia's objection to Shiism becoming rooted in the country. It wants to clamp down on Shiite growth to keep Indonesia Sunni in orientation.

A sectarian divide among Muslims could one day expose the country to religious strife on a scale found in Iraq and Pakistan. Already, signs of such a conflict have been manifested in Indonesia by the random attacks on Shiites and their religious centers.

While concerns over potential sectarian strife are legitimate, the authorities have to grapple with the existence of thousands of Shiite converts who call Indonesia their home. They have the right to be protected and practice their Shiite faith as guaranteed by the Constitution. An "Islamic ecumenical" movement should be encouraged to bridge the gap between the two sects to avert future conflict. Such a rapprochement would go a long way towards maintaining harmony.

Eventually, Indonesia will have to fall back on its national motto "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika" or "unity in diversity" to strengthen tolerance and the spirit of co-existence. The motto should mean the acceptance of not only diverse religions, but also diversity within one religion, that is, Islam.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Indonesia Looking to 2016 Games

Jakarta Globe, Sandy Pramuji, August 13, 2012

Indonesia's Deni Deni embraces weights celebrating a successful lift
 on the men's 69Kg Group A weightlifting competition at the ExCel venue
 at the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 31, 2012. (Reuters Photo/
Grigory Dukor)
Related articles

As Britain basked in the feel-good factor of its most successful Olympic performance, Indonesia and many of its Asian peers found themselves going back to the drawing board.

The London Games officially closed on Sunday with no Indonesian athletes taking part in the closing ceremony at the Olympic Stadium. All 22 athletes had returned home earlier.

Indonesia’s Olympics finished well before Sunday, with the country only earning one silver and one bronze medal in men’s weightlifting. Sprinter Fernando Lumain and marathon runner Triyaningsih were the last to compete, and they had left London last Tuesday without adding to the country’s medal count.

This year’s Olympics was one of Indonesia’s worst since making its debut at the 1952 Games in Helsinki. It failed to come home with a gold medal in badminton since the sport gained full Olympic status in 1992. Badminton had produced all six of Indonesia’s Olympic gold medals, but none of the country’s shuttlers managed to even reach the finals in London.

Mixed doubles pair Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir came in as Indonesia’s best hope but left empty-handed, losing in the semifinals before bowing out meekly in the bronze-medal match. When Indonesia did make the headlines, it was for the wrong reasons — Greysia Polii and Meiliana Jauhari were among four women’s doubles pairs disqualified for intentionally playing poorly to receive an easier quarterfinal draw.

Sports officials have offered apologies for the poor results but had few answers on how to stop Indonesia’s slide into irrelevance.

Youth and Sports Minister Andi Mallarangeng suggested narrowing the country’s focus.

“We have to determine which sports need to be given priority,” he said. “We’ve been too dependent on badminton as a gold mine in the Olympics. I think we will have to pick probably five sports [as top priorities] for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero.”

Sports given priority would receive more funding and other support, the minister added.

He offered no other details of his plan, only saying that badminton and weightlifting would be two of the priority sports and “we’ll use a more scientific approach and technology in training our athletes.”

Weightlifting has consistently produced medals for Indonesia since the 2000 Games, when Lisa Rumbewas won silver in the women’s 48-kilogram division. Triyatno finished second in the men’s 69kg while Eko Yuli Irawan was third in the men’s 62kg.

Lukman, who coached the weightlifting team, said Indonesia’s success was down to keeping up with new training methods and paying attention to details, such as athletes’ diets.

“We’ve been introducing technology such as recording the athletes’ training with slow-motion cameras so they know what to improve,” he said.

Indonesia’s Southeast Asian peers also largely struggled in London. Thailand finished with two silvers and a bronze, a far cry from the two gold and two silver medals it won at the 2008 Games in Beijing.

While Malaysian star Lee Chong Wei had to settle for men’s singles silver, the country earned its first Olympic medal outside badminton when Pandalela Rinong won bronze in women’s 10-meter platform diving.

Asian powerhouse China could not quite emulate its stunning performance from four years ago. It finished the 2008 Games with 100 medals, including 51 gold, but it fell back slightly after leaving home soil. As of Sunday afternoon, China was second in the medals table with 87 overall — 38 gold, 27 silver and 22 bronze — while the United States was first with 46 gold, 29 silver and 29 bronze.

South Korea and Japan also fell back in the table. Iran was the only Asian nation to improve its standing, earning four gold, five silver and three bronze after winning just one gold and one bronze in Beijing.

The host nation, meanwhile, celebrated its best Olympics in a century. Great Britain racked up 29 gold medals and 64 overall to secure third place in the table, beating out Russia.

Its performance was its best since London hosted the Games in 1908. Great Britain topped the table that year with 56 gold medals and 146 overall.

Additional reporting by AP & AFP

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