Friday, August 22, 2008

Religious Persecution in Indonesia

This article caught my eye because the issue of persecution against Christians is something I have been looking more into recently. The mention of Indonesia also proved sadly repetitive; I recieve regular updates from Voice of the Martyrs which detail cases of religious persecution in countries all over the world, and asks for prayer. Indonesia is mentioned quite a lot.

I also thought that this article would be notable for some Schapelle supporters, since it discusses the policies of Susilo Bambang Yudhohono towards Muslims as the Presidential election draws near in Indonesia.


Attack forces Indonesian Christians off campus

By SARA SCHONHARDT, Associated Press Writer
Fri Aug 22, 3:10 AM ET

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Hundreds of Christian theology students have been living in tents since a mob of angry Muslim neighbors stormed their campus last month wielding bamboo spears and hurling Molotov cocktails.

The incident comes amid growing concern that Indonesia's tradition of religious tolerance is under threat from Islamic hard-liners.

In talks since the attack, the Arastamar Evangelical School of Theology has reluctantly agreed to shut its 20-year-old campus in east Jakarta, accepting an offer this week to move to a small office building on the other side of the Indonesian capital.

"Why should we be forced from our house while our attackers can walk freely?" asked the Rev. Matheus Mangentang, chairman of the 1,400-student school.

The government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, which relies on the support of Islamic parties in Parliament, is struggling to balance deep Islamic traditions and a secular constitution. With elections coming next April, the government seems unwilling to defend religious minorities, lest it be portrayed as anti-Islamic in what is the world's most populous Muslim-majority country.

The July 25 attack, which injured 18 students, was the culmination of years of simmering tensions between the school and residents of the Kampung Pulo neighborhood.

Senny Manave, a spokesman for the Christian school, said complaints were received from neighbors about prayers and the singing of hymns, which they considered disturbing evangelical activity.

Several neighbors refused to comment, saying they feared that could further strain relations. A prominent banner, signed by scores of people, has been hung over an entrance to the neighborhood.

"We the community of Kampung Pulo demand the campus be closed and dissolved," it says.

The assault began around midnight, when students woke to the crash of stones falling on their dormitory roof as a voice over a loudspeaker at a nearby mosque cried "Allah Akbar," or "God is great" in Arabic.

The unidentified speaker urged residents to rise up against their "unwanted neighbors," said Sairin, the head of campus security, who goes by a single name.

The attack followed a claim that a student had broken into a resident's house, but police dismissed the charge.

Uneasy relations date to 2003, when neighbors began to protest the school's presence. Last year, residents set fire to shelters for construction workers to try to stop the campus from expanding deeper into the neighborhood. Some also questioned the legality of the school's permit.

Christian lawmaker Karol Daniel Kadang accused property speculators of provoking last month's incident to clear the land for more profitable use, after the school refused to sell out.

He also blamed the government for failing to build interfaith relations, which he and others believe are beginning to fray.

"People are still tolerant, but there is a growing suspicion among Muslims of others," said Prof. Franz Magnis-Suseno, a Jesuit priest who has lived in Indonesia for half a century.

He added that the police have failed to prevent both attacks on minorities and the forced closure of Christian churches and nontraditional mosques by mobs incited by radical Muslims.

"The state has some responsibility for this growing intolerance, namely by not upholding the law," he said.

A mob stormed a church service last Sunday in another east Jakarta neighborhood, forcing dozens of Christian worshippers to flee, said Jakarta Police Chief Col. Carlo Tewu. No arrests have been made.

Since being driven from campus, nearly 600 female students have been sleeping under suspended tarps at a nearby scout camp, where they had to dig trenches to keep water out during downpours. Classes are held with megaphones in the sweltering summer heat, under trees or the tarps. A similar number of male students live in a guesthouse. The remainder have returned to their families.

Food, water and school supplies are donated by church groups and community charities.

"We feel like refugees in our own country," said Dessy Nope, 19, a second-year student majoring in education. "How can you study here? I only followed 20 percent of my last lesson. It's difficult to concentrate."

Christians have not been the only targets for Muslim hard-liners, who this year set fire to mosques of a Muslim sect, Ahmadiyah, that they consider heretical.

In June, the government ordered members of the sect to return to mainstream Islam, sparking concern among activists who fear the state is interfering in matters of faith and caving in to the demands of radicals.

"We're living in a country where there are many religions, but the government cannot prevent the actions of fundamentalist groups," said Manave, the school spokesman. "The government cannot protect minorities."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I Want to Believe

I reported earlier via a comment that the producers of the most excellent TV show 24 were using audience numbers from the X-Files movie I Want to Believe to see whether doing a 24 movie after going off-air would be successful. Hopefully, they don't lose hope. From what I understand, people flocked to the X-Files film, but not in overwhelming numbers. Fans liked it, but their audulation was drowned out by the critics.......who didn't.

Potential redeeming elements could be my thoughts that first, The Dark Knight edged Mulder and Scully's reunion out of the spotlight (or shoved it completely into the ground) and second, was it a coincidence that The X-Files: I Want to Believe aired on the weekend prior to the FBI's 100th anniversary?

You probably read that with a ho-hum reaction. Your reaction probably coincided with mine - for I highly doubt Dark Knight's airdate a mere few days prior to The X-Files was a conspiracy....nor do I seriously believe Chris Carter admired the Bureau that much - even despite Mulder and Scully's dedication to the organization.

This, therefore, is my reaction to the film, posted on the 24 Forum:

POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT! (I reference people and issues, not events, read if you want)

At first, I was not that impressed. It seemed a lot of the dialogue was slightly cliched and forced....with certain issues the movie brought up, such as the stem cells, pedophile priest, as well as the photo of Bush played in timing with certain music, it seemed there was a push for more liberal views. I admit, though, that I thought playing the X-Files theme while showing Bush's photo was hilarious! Loved it!

Some of the acting, especially by the secondary characters, didn't seem to work well.

I was almost afraid that I wouldn't like the movie. But as it progressed, it tightened, and the plot and all the issues came to intertwine....and as I left the theater, I realized I'd witnessed a fantastic homage to the series.

All the questions brought up by the series--the things that made the series so irresistable--were brought to a head and played out wonderfully through everything that Mulder and Scully faced. Faith vs. science....or both? What is the spiritual realm like? What make up light and darkness? What is truth, and how do we find it? Can horrible persons be forgiven? How does one obtain that forgiveness? I Want to Believe addressed all of these in a very unique way.

I've read critics complain that the movie was more like an episode. I would have to agree with that. It did not seem to have the grandiose, theatrical, movie-like awe and wonder of other films....or even like that of Fight the Future. Whatever the reason for that, though, the subject matter of the film--the issues it raised--worked wonderfully within the very specific one-small-FBI-case context. I don't know if it was intentional to examine how great, expansive issues can arise through something small......or whether this was just the storyline they wrote.....but it worked. And I loved it!

I know I will have to see it a second time so that I can look once more at how they deal with these issues again.

It was great seeing Mulder and Scully back. I was slightly thrown off by their relationship in the movie, because I had imagined it would be different (I'm leaving out specifics for those who haven't seen the movie yet). But their interaction was there, and their humor. I loved Mulder's comment "Well, we'll just have to crawl in bed with him and kiss his holy a**." Then the ASAC's response to that.......hilarious! :D

I equally enjoyed the end scene during the credits. The X-Files score that played during the credits.....loved it! Mark Snow did a fantastic job throughout the movie. I thought the imagery of the ice to the tropics was beautiful to watch, and....well.....the bit you see at the end was nice, too. :D

All in all, I Want to Believe may not generate new may not be in the same vein as many eps in the series were theatrically....but while it failed in some aspects (theatrics, "feel" of the series, etc) it succeeded marvellously in others. Best of all, I think it did The X-Files well by perpetuating the questions that made the series great. It is definitely one to buy and keep.

Congratulations (sort of) to Schapelle and Renae

In honor of Indonesia's Independence Day, this August 17, the national government awarded Schapelle Corby and Renae Lawrence (of the Bali 9) sentence reductions. Schapelle's sentence is three months smaller now, and Renae's four.

This reduction comes as a result of Schapelle's and Renae's good and model behavior as prisoners at Kerobokan. It places Schapelle's release date down into the year 2024. I was happy myself to hear the news, but at the same time the 2024 figure is still sobering for its sheer length. Sixteen years away, yet......and Schapelle is 31 now.

It is my hope that Schapelle be cleared of the charges against her - because I believe she is innocent - and that her reputation be restored. I think Schapelle is a fantastic person who deserves all the prayers and encouragement we can give. She does not recieve them without giving back, as seen by her will to fight, her letters in return to supporters, and her efforts at maintaining good humor and goodwill. So, when the lady is released, I will be screaming and jumping for joy - even if it's only in 2024.

HLJ Random Quote of the Week

Someone at my apartment decided to get on the community computer and check out some news:
"Screw China!" - When she found out who had the most Olympic medals. Fortunately for her, the US later recouped the amount and surpassed the People's Republic. Maybe it also made her rethink her language.....