The multiplication of imprisonments for "blasphemy" casts a shadow on the archipelago's reputation for moderate Islam. Under the influence of Wahhabism imported from the Arabian Peninsula, Muslims (85% of Indonesians) are becoming radicalized. " The world needs to know! implores, from his cell, Appolinaris Darmawan. This septuagenarian is serving a 5-year sentence for "incitement to hatred". In question, videos shared on YouTube, in which he questions Islam, the religion in which he was born and which he recanted.
Author, specialist in Indonesian history, Appolinaris Darmawan used his erudition to address the Court during his trial. On the stand, he recalled that the Indonesian Constitution recognizes freedom of expression and that therefore his arrest was unjustified. The fact that Muslims feel offended by my words is not enough to imprison me, he pleaded, the offense being subjective and not falling under the law. The man is not fooled. He knows that judges are under pressure from religious extremists. He also knows that this problem already existed under Sukarno, the first President of the Indonesian Republic, to which he devoted a book. Sukarno, though a Muslim, feared that his country would become an Islamic Republic. In 1945, he was particularly opposed to a clause in the Constitution stipulating that the president must necessarily be Muslim, and to Sharia serving as the country's legal basis.
In Indonesia, the teaching of Mohammed did not come through conquest, but through trade. And if it is necessary to relativize the idea of an Indonesian archipelago open to all religions, there is indeed a tradition of tolerance of diversity, testifies Father Paul Billaud, of the Foreign Missions of Paris. He resides in Bandar Lampung, in the extreme south of the large island of Sumatra. Thanks to his 40 years' experience in the archipelago, the missionary observes the changes taking place. “There is no longer the respect for other religious communities that existed when I arrived,” he regrets. Practices from Saudi Arabia are becoming widespread, to the detriment of local traditions. For example, the Javanese no longer wear the sarong, but long fabric dresses and veils of Arabic inspiration. Similarly, polygamy, which was forbidden to Indonesian officials, is now encouraged. “Islamic banks” are springing up in the country, like mushrooms. Pressure is exerted on restaurants to stop their activities during Ramadan.
Social networks have given a fantastic boost to Salafist discourse on the Internet. Some have millions of views on YouTube. Among successful preachers, Muhammad Yahya Waloni stood out with a play on words that Christians "Catholics, like Protestants, are for Satan." Another, Ustad Abdul Somad, asserts that "the Cross is demonic" and that Muslims who die in Christian hospitals bearing this sign "go straight to hell".
Christian preachers have responded by posting videos in turn criticizing Salafist preachers, which is helping to strain relations between religious communities. They are often repudiated by their churches, which prefer to preserve social peace at all costs. And they therefore find themselves on the front line and isolated in the face of the vindictiveness of the extremists.
The most eloquent case is that of Muhammad Kacé, former imam, converted to Christianity (photo during his trial). His swollen face made headlines in Indonesian newspapers in September 2021. Arrested for one of his videos, in which he denounced the religious teaching given in Koranic schools, he was tortured in an unspeakable way by fellow prisoners who mysteriously gained access to his cell. In March 2022, Muhammad Kacé although appeared very weak at the helm, presented a coherent defense. In particular, he stressed that his remarks did not contain any incitement to hatred and that his arrest represented a violation of freedom of expression. Diabetic, deprived of treatment for months, he fainted twice during court sessions. His pleading was disturbed by Muslim extremists who were singing outside, to the melody of a children's nursery rhyme: "Hang, hang, hang Kacé!" ". He was sentenced to 10 years in prison for “incitement to hatred”.
However, there is no call for violence in the 400 or so videos he has posted, but a call for vigilance which he sums up in the words salam sadar : "Salute the conscience". It is a cry to awaken Indonesia to become aware of the danger of a foreign Islam which is in the process of suffocating it!
This article is published from Selection of the day.