May 24, 2017

The political power play behind the whipping of gay men in Aceh

News that gay men in Indonesia are being whipped by order of the sharia police has shocked the world, but we should look at politics, not religion.

Professor Damien Kingsbury

Crikey international affairs commentator

News of two gay men being publicly whipped in the Indonesian city of Banda Aceh has sparked concerns that Indonesia’s long-vaunted “tolerant” Islam is turning fundamentalist. Islam in Indonesia is in a process of change, and a more fundamentalist version of the faith is increasingly prominent. The “Aceh whippings”, however, might be misleading.

Aceh was the first place in the south-east Asian archipelago to receive Islam, and the province is colloquially known as “Mecca’s veranda”. However, until relatively recently, while Acehnese Muslims were devout, they were far from fundamentalist in their outlook.

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6 thoughts on “The political power play behind the whipping of gay men in Aceh

  1. bref

    I’m sometimes surprised by the level unsophistication of Indonesian intelligentsia, for example judges boasting about how few they have judged innocent, because, by enlarge, they are well educated and westernised. But sending to jail a politician to jail for some innocuous comment or whipping men for being gay is a whole new level of primitivism. Do Indonesians really want to go back to the dark ages?

  2. AR

    As usual with Kingsbury’s cut’n’paste boilerplate, he misses salient points such as the massive amount of Saudi money – consider the recent trip of the Saudi prince with an entourage of 300, several aircraft and untold hundred of millions of dollars to further wahabism.
    Precisely like the $900M private donation to the Malaysian PM a couple of years back to promote the kleptocracy’s pernicious & intolerant variant to a muslim populace which has been happy with unshrouded women for centuries.

  3. Jimbo

    It is becoming increasingly clear that Politics is not the key to power in Indonesia, and that Islam has usurped that power. Sharia is just the brutal enactment of Islam. In Arabic, the word “Islam” means submission or surrender. Indonesia is not the only country where this is clearly evident. Europe is but one prominent example. They will all just have to live with the whippings.

    1. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

      Jimbo, there’s a lot of disconnected thoughts-out-loud there. No matter what faith or non-faith a nation follows there will always be a political process. In a religious dictatorship it’s not the religion that’s the dictator it’s the autocrat at the top of the pile. You’ve left a bit out of the meaning of ‘Islam’ – submission, yes, but ‘submission to God’ is more accurate and complete. Which, when you reflect on the dogma and catechisms of Christianity is pretty much one and the same. In fact, I recall that the Anglican marriage vows in Sydney require that, having already surrendered herself to God, the woman must then agree to submit to her husband. Kinky eh? What is Europe “but one prominent example” of?

      1. bref

        Yes, I fear that eventually Indonesia will succumb to the radicals – there seems to be no political power or will to stop it. I really thought Indonesians were more feisty than this and want to retain the freedom they fought the Dutch for. Balinese friends of mine say that muslim Javanese in areas around Kuta are already causing problems. The time is coming for tourists and businesses to take stock and maybe give Indonesia a wide berth.

      2. Jimbo

        Q; “In a religious dictatorship it’s not the religion that’s the dictator it’s the autocrat at the top of the pile.” And how do you get a Muslim to the top of the pile? Islam dictates that Muslims can only vote for a Muslim. Then who is in charge? The Koran. (viewed by Muslims as the verbatim word of God). ISIS, Boko Haram…….The list is long, all live by the Koran. There are 1.8 billion Muslims in the world. Surveys have shown only 22% of them subscribe to violent jihadism. (Thank Allah for that)
        Your argument is quite academic and ignores the elephant in the room.

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