It makes me think of Obelix‘s catchphrase in the famous French comic book series Asterix. He uses to say : “Weird guys, these Romans” (Ils sont fous ses romains). I wonder what he would say if he could meet with the lads at the Religious Affairs Ministry.
A Ministry of Religion is a peculiar phenomenon in a secular state. But not that odd in a society which is not very secular itself. It’s inevitable for any Indonesian government to deal with religions. The government will facilitate them, subsidize people’s Hajj or provide for free Holy Books. Actually these projects were on the priority list over the last two years. They involved considerable amounts of taxpayers’ money. And because politicians, officials and civil servants who work in this part of government are human, just like less pious and righteous colleagues, they did and do what greedy humans do when offered the opportunity.
One of them is Member of Parliament Zulkarnaen Djabar. However fate turned the tables on him. Now he considers himself to be a vexed man. He is being accused of involvement with three bribery cases. Including Qur’an-gate. Qur’an gate is a case of redirection of money which was meant to be spent on the distribution of free Holy Books. Redirection to the pockets of a few decision-makers that is. And to treasurers of some political parties and campaigns.
Zalkarnaen doesn’t deny the accusations, offered apologies and next complains he has to live through an ordeal. He’s just human after all, he said.
I can’t deny I’m prone to the sin of malicious enjoyment. The most rewarding situations are when some haughty, arrogant bigwig or celebrity embarrasses his- or herself in public. I like it even better if people who claim the moral high-ground fall flat on their face for everybody to see.
So you just should see me smirk reading about members of the Commission VIII and the Ministry of Religion who have been caught in the act of embezzling a fortune on a huge Holy Books for free project. Correction: not “in the act” but “after the act”. Many acts actually. The ministry, that fortress of pious politicians and civil servants, has had already qualified for the Guinness Book of Records for professionally inappropriate behaviour. However now they have been corrupting even Al Qur’an. It surpassed the people’s imagination and caused genuine indignation.
Yet on the positive site: the irony of the situation is wildly hilarious.