Monday, 9 June 2008
Hate To Break This To You: Moderate Isn't Mainstream and Extremist Isn't Radical

Hard to decide what is more maddening in stories like these — the fact that there are ALWAYS stories like these, or the media's stubborn refusal to come to grips with the evidence of sense even as they describe it in real time.

In Indonesia, which sport's the world's largest Muslim population, the Associated Press reports that the government (in yet another of these Islamic "democracies" that "guarantees freedom of religion") has ordered a "moderate" Muslim sect to return to the "mainstream" of Islam or risk imprisonment for debasing Islam.  The Ahmadi — whose persecution I have detailed previously — do not accept Mohammed as the final prophet or jihad as a divine injunction.  Not withstanding the above, the AP blithely reports as fact its opinion that "the vast majority of Indonesia's Muslims are moderate" — as if the term "moderate" actually has a settled meaning and as if, even if it retained its commonly understood meaning, it would be possible for such a thing to happen if "the vast majority of Indonesia's Muslims" were actually "moderate."

Here's the report (italics are mine):

MUSLIM SECT TOLD TO RETURN TO MAINSTREAM ISLAM 

Members of a moderate Muslim sect were ordered by the government Monday to return to mainstream Islam or face possible imprisonment for insulting the country's predominant religion.

Critics may see the step as a failure by the government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to uphold the young democracy's secular values as it struggles to define its Muslim identity after decades of dictatorship.

The vast majority of Indonesia's Muslims are moderate, but in recent years an extremist fringe has grown louder. The government, which relies on the support of Islamic parties in Parliament, has been accused of caving in to their demands.

The document signed Monday by two Cabinet ministers and the attorney general "orders all Ahmadiyah followers to stop their activities" or face up to five years in prison.

Indonesia's constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but many in the nation of 235 million consider it offensive that the sect does not recognize Muhammad as the last prophet.  [ME:  Must be that darned fringe!]

"Is it still safe for us in this country?" Ahmadiyah spokesman Syamsir Ali said in an interview with national broadcaster tvOne. "Our houses are being targeted and those who don't like us feel it is acceptable to spill our blood."  Ali said he hopes Indonesia doesn't "turn out to be like governments in the Middle East" where the movement is prohibited.  [ME:  "Moderate" governments, no doubt.]

Hard-liners have attacked Ahmadiyah members and torched their mosques since the government said in April it was considering banning the faith. Several dozen religious tolerance activists were beaten at a rally in Jakarta just over a week ago while police stood by.

A spokesman for the radical Islamic Defenders' Front — which has a long record of arson, stoning and vandalism against opponents and Western targets — said the decree falls short of its demands.  "It is not enough. We will keep up the struggle until the president orders the disbandment of Ahmadiyah," he said in a telephone interview.

Earlier Monday, several thousands protesters wearing white Islamic robes and caps gathered outside the presidential palace to demand that the organization be outlawed.

The religion needs to be defended "from people who want to destroy Islam's teachings," said demonstrator Zairin, who like many Indonesian goes by a single name. The use of violence would be justified to force reluctant Ahmadiyah members to renounce their faith and "keep Islam pure," he said.

ME:  Of course, as former Prime Minister Tony Blair learned when Britain's police authorities tried to investigate a Saudi corruption case, and as the EU is learning with Pakistan's "request" that Europe rethink that whole freedom-of-speech thing, no report on such a development in the Religion of Peace would be complete without the extortionate threat of terror:  "Religious Affairs Minister Maftuh Basyuni, one of the ministers who signed the decree, said it 'is not an intervention into someone's faith, but to maintain order and safety.'" 

In other words:  surrender your principles ... for your own good, of course.  After all, you'll otherwise have to deal with the wrath of those "extremists" and "radicals" who, it turns out, are defending "mainstream Islam."

Posted on 06/09/2008 3:44 PM by Andy McCarthy
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