Thursday, September 21, 2006

Fighting Islamist Censorship in Indonesia

Indonesia is the world's most populous majority Muslim nation. It is also a democracy where a moderate form of Islam has traditionally been practiced. Unfortunately, radical Islamism has made some disturbing inroads in Indonesia in recent years. As Daveed Gartenstein-Ross points out in a recent essay, many of Indonesia's intellectuals and entertainers are fighting back:

INDONESIA is currently embroiled in a high-stakes culture war between forces dedicated to Islamic law and more secular-minded citizens devoted to the freedoms and rights enshrined in the country's constitution. While Islamic conservatives have made significant gains, the entertainment industry is emerging as a major arena of opposition to their highly restrictive vision for society.

This opposition is sometimes subtle, sometimes bold. One entertainer who positively courts political controversy is pop singer Inul Daratista, whose suggestive dancing has gotten her banned from several Muslim-dominated towns and earned her the ire of the Indonesian Ulemas Council. Meanwhile, singer Ahmad Dhani of the popular rock band Dewa has released several hit songs whose lyrics aim to undercut the allure of Islamic militancy among Indonesian youth.

One of the most fascinating figures to watch is filmmaker Joko Anwar, who views Indonesian filmmaking in a political context. "We always try to push the envelope," he says, "either politically or on romantic things." They often succeed.

Movie Stars vs. Islamists

Thankfully, people like Joko Anwar have recognized early on the necessity of resolutely opposing the Islamists if Indonesians are to maintain their freedoms. This is a lesson that many in Europe and elsewhere have sadly failed to learn.


Blogger Republican Jen said...

This is a blog worth reading!

8:21 PM  

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