Category Archives: religion

I don’t want to join the choir of Islam bashers.

Personil Satuan polisi Pamong Praja (Satpol PP) wanita Pemerintah Kota Banda Aceh saat mengawal dakwah umum jumatan di Banda Aceh, Jumat (19/9).

Even in colonial days Aceh was a special case in Indonesia. It’s not different now. It’s the only province to apply Shariah for Muslims. That’s remarkable in a secular state.

However it’s still a relatively moderate version of it.  Fortunately that part of Indonesia is not comparable to Saudi Arabia. Let alone IS.


Change may be on it’s way.  It looks like it’s getting worse, I mean. The provincial administration is about to extent Shariah to all inhabitants of Aceh. Including ultra small minorities, like Christians.

No, I still don’t want to join the choir of Islam-bashers.

But by Zeus and Wodan, these days a number of so called Muslims do their utmost to push me to the brink !

Save Our Souls



It occurs twice, three times a year. You can count on it. You can count on them.

My wife is shrewd. She pretends not to see them, or not hear them or to be too busy when the problem occurs. So it’s always me who has to answer the door.

It had been some time since their last visit, but yes I knew they would return. They always return. Relentlessly.  So there they were again last Thursday.

No, it’s not that bad.  It’s just a major nuisance.

People standing on your doorstep, ringing the bell and asking if you’re interested to have your soul saved from eternal doom. And actually.. I’m not.

They usually are persistent. It’s hard to get rid of them.

They always come in pairs.  American evangelicals sometimes,  but most of the time Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Usually a middle aged lady and a middle aged male.

Sometimes two middle aged women. That’s worse, because it’s tough to be sufficiently rude to ladies. A method which I reluctantly resort to. Every now and then.

But worst of all are the villains who come with a small child in tow. You have to be polite and even charming, because of that little boy or girl. Especially if it’s a girl. That condition immediately reminds of the female British novelist who, as a young girl, experienced herself the embarrassments of being in tow of fanatically proselyting Pentecostal parents  – and heartbreakingly wrote about it *.

Yet, in the light of recent events the relatively innocent encroachments upon the ‘my home is my castle’ privilege, were mere blessings in disguise. Pretty peaceful basic trainings for what will follow. What the future has in store for us.  That future where words, even abusive words, arguments, angry facial expressions and threatening body language words won’t do any more to get rid of the unwelcome missionaries.

Today I visualize a future in which bearded, funnily dressed, heavily armed young men call upon me and offer me a choice to convert on the spot, pay up considerable amounts of money or being staged for a summary execution. No words or body language will chase them away.

So let it be known to those who are on a mission from God, I will prepare.

There will be a quote by John Cale on my door **.  And I will have my Kalashnikov ready.


*  Jeanette Winterson; Oranges are not the only fruit.

> John Cale,  quote from Hanky Panky Nohow,  Album `Paris 1919′:

“Nothing frightens me more
Than religion at my door”

Timetravel in Aceh


“Aceh mulls Shariah for non-Muslims”, the JP * reported.

In an extremely obliging mood I could describe Shari-ah as just another judicial system. A very special one though.

To be honest I actually don’t know much about the finesse of Shari-ah. Except that – if only because it tends to apply as literally as possible the writings of almost one and a half millennium ago – it is at odds with modern society. And that it is hostile to the quintessence of humanistic values which constitute the foundations of modern justice. Core believers assume it to be the “Word of God” (Allah). In other words: beyond logic and reason.

Outdated, yet even today some societies have chosen Shari-ah. And peculiar as it may be, while Indonesia is a secular state after all, the province of Aceh is one of them.

Now there is the saying “when in Rome do as the Romans”. Which in this specific case of the Italian capital I support. It would mean living the life of La Grande Bellezza in style. Which can be grandiose.

Apparently the provincial authorities in Aceh think inhabitants and visitors of Aceh also should abide by their  Shariah-way-of-life . Dress code, conduct and all. Muslims and Kafir alike. Which of course for most of them (except the ones who come from peculiar parts of the world like Saudi Arab) will mean a time travel trip back to the early middle ages.

The difference with Rome is that if you ignore Roman Catholicism and don’t comply with the Roman ways and habits when you go there, you will not be fined, not be caned and not be arrested. However if you ignore their Shari-ah you will meet punishment in Aceh.

Not my cup of tea. And especially not my wife’s cup of tea. She as a matter of principle for instance only wears a headscarf in strong winds :).

So, it’s easy. While I hope to visit the wonderful country of Indonesia many times more, I will skip the most North-Western tip of the archipelago.

And hope one day they will come their senses there.

* Jakarta Post



Agression in Religion’s Name.

In Religion's Name

The Indonesian president likes to show off the country’s  good reputation in the world. Indeed he got overwhelming positive international feedback in the course of his administration. I’m sure that also during his imminent visit to Berlin and Budapest, Chancellor Angela Merkel and prime minister Viktor Orban ( who himself by the way is very ill at ease with human rights) will praise Indonesia as the economically flourishing democracy with world’s largest Muslim population.

But perhaps they will do so with notable less conviction and less enthusiasm than on previous occasions. RI’s image has been slightly tarnished lately. It’s human rights record is being frowned upon. Last Friday my own paper, NRC, wrote “Religious violence in Indonesia increases each year“. And -more importantly-  Thursday the Huffington Post “World”-section headed :”Indonesia:Religious Minorities Target of Rising Violence“. The report  Human Rights Watch published last Wednesday  has  significant publicity impact apparently.

Continue reading Agression in Religion’s Name.

Love and looming danger

mass organization bill 1

The EU ambassador in Jakarta wrote a love letter to  Indonesia on February the 14th. He apparently went cruising. Or perhaps he’s already courting the Garuda bird. He praises the great Indonesian people, the fascinating Indonesian diversity, the wonderful Indonesian products, the beautiful Indonesian landscapes and the ever improving Indonesian tourist infrastructure, including more and more golf courses.  Except for  golf courses I actually agree wholeheartedly with him :).

However I think true love shouldn’t be blind. Julian Wilson is a diplomat and as a diplomat he can’t publicly criticise Indonesia’s characteristics, developments or incidents. But I can. So let me  add my love and complete his sunny Valentine appraisal with a critical note.

Continue reading Love and looming danger