• Monday, March 05, 2007

    Can anyone explain?

    I'm appealing for some explanation here. There are two things that caught my eye in today's paper. There's an opinion piece about the growing Islamification of Indonesia and a letter from a foreigner in the Postbag about Muslim unrest in the south of Thailand.

    The letter argues that tolerance and understanding are central in ending the violence in the south of Thailand. The writer argues that Thailand should follow other countries in being tolerant towards the needs and wants of the Muslim population.

    The opinion piece is about the recent move towards a more sharia based system of governance in Indonesia. The result already is that women are fined for being out after dark or without headscarves, Christians are forced to wear headscarves and cover up and churches are being fined and closed. A married mother was fined, given three years in jail and branded a prostitute for waiting for a bus at 8pm without a headscarf and having a stick of lipstick in her bag.

    Am I alone in thinking that whilst we're all being told to be more tolerant towards Muslims the Islamic world seems to be nothing short of intolerant.

    I come from the UK where it feels that a new law is emerging everyday to make life easier for Muslims. Public swimming pools have to have Muslim only days because Muslims don't want to have to bathe with non-Muslims, Christmas is all but banned in public places and any sign of Christianity is removed for fear of upsetting Muslims; traditional Christmas decorations in the streets are a thing of the past and one member of the Labour government even suggested changing Christmas to Wintermass so as to cause less offence.

    Integration is a wonderful thing and I'm all for having mixed societies (I'm a product of mixed blood, my wife's Thai/Chinese and our daughter is a mix of all that). However, it does seem that non-Muslims are being all tolerant and the Muslims are anything but.

    I have Muslim friends and one in particular who regularly sends me emails trying to convince me that Islam is very much misunderstood. In a bid to try to understand more I bought a copy of the Qu'ran. I haven't read it in its entirety yet but whenever I flick through it I always seem to come upon a page mentioning how us non-believers will burn in hell etc. "Argh", says my friend, "then you need to read another book to explain what you are reading in the Qu'ran in case you don't understand what the book is really saying". Hmm

    Thailand has committed some terrible acts of revenge in the south against Muslim insurgents but at the same time they have not been shy in beheading people, setting off multiple bombs and burning down schools. With this heightened level of violence it's not hard to see why tolerance is in short supply.

    I'm curious. I've asked this question to various Muslim friends who can't answer. Where is a true Muslim country? Where can I go and see Islam practiced in its true sense, complete with tolerance and understanding towards others? Iran? Saudi Arabia? Pakistan? Syria? Which Muslim country encourages people of different faiths to live side by side in harmony?

    If Thailand bends to the will of the insurgents in the south will it bring peace? Will the lower three provinces become cut off from the rest of Thailand and become strict Islamic provinces run by the rule sharia? Will Thais from Thailand's predominant Buddhist population be able to live freely in those provinces and practice Buddhism openly without fear of persecution, as Muslims in other parts of Thailand can do now?

    Can anyone explain?

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    Blogger Liza said...

    Scary stuff indeed, and I'm rather curious (and somewhat concerned) to see how this will all play it in several years' time.

    3:21 pm  
    Blogger Life Out East said...

    It is worrying. There seems to be potential for some serious turbulence in the coming years. As for the Thai situation, I honestly don't see an end to the problems unless they give the south self-governance and it heads towards either unification with Malaysia or becoming an independent Islamic state. And I can't see the Thai government swallowing that one.

    8:37 pm  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I understand your point , But believe me ISLAM does'nt support violence. As a practising muslim i am much tolarent towards others. I studied in a CONVENT School (christian missionary) & graduated from Univ ( dominated by Hindus), But still i have my roots towards ISLAM . In truest sense Muslims are & have to be tolarant towards others. Look upon INDIA , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (DUBAI) where muslims are tolarant towards other cultures. So Bottom line " just by praying 5 times a day doe'snt mean they are ture muslims ..hav to follow more principle pillars of islam ..i call them Psuedo -Islamic identity .. they do not represent ISLAM or Muslim community " . About Quranic verses.. We have this verse saying " Lakkum Deenu-kum Wali - Yudeen " which means "let others follow they'r own religion" . So one can read entire book with proper context & then see how world looks like...

    So no where i try to defend those psudo - Islamists.. for theeir actions they'll surely reap rewards..

    Peace upon All faiths..

    Reader in UAE.

    2:17 pm  
    Blogger Life Out East said...

    Anon - Thanks for the comment, much appreciated. My friend says much the same as you are saying and I'm sure you are both correct.

    But, what I don't understand is why the more moderate Muslims don't make their voices heard? Why don't the many millions in Indonesia that don't want to live under sharia speak out? In the UK we never hear the Muslim Council of Great Britain out there battling against the terrorists that blow up trains. Instead we see young Muslims shouting death to the west and hailing Bin Laden as a great man. When three Christian schoolgirls were beheaded in the street on their way to school in Indonesia last year (maybe the year before actually) I don't remember hearing any Muslims on the street protesting for justice.

    Please don't think I am anti-Islamic, honestly I'm not. Personally I don't follow a religion and I find it difficult to understand how people can get so worked up about a religion. But that's me. I'm actually interested in Islam and want to learn more about it but every time I start to take an interest some idiot slaughters a bunch of innocent people "in the name of Islam" and I wonder why I'm bothering.

    3:07 pm  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Even i am much bothered of slaughterers who are pathetic & spoil whole community's name. There are many things which islam preaches which can be done in "the name of ISLAM" like giving alms to poor,bringing litracy , making heathly realtions with neighbors & other cultures, Living life in a simplistic way as Quran proposes etc. SO many things to be done in the name of islam , than slaughtering innocent & calling them Great !!! , Are they mentaly stable ? Are they literate ? Do realy they know what islam is ? i have serious douts ...who is BIN LADEN ?? He's not a religious leader or Prophet. So his followers are just shit on this earth ...polluting even the purest.

    Nothing much to say .....i like to voice against these ..so called muslims(psuedo islamists). Let whole world know what there intentions are ...

    Thanks for taking interest & arising this issue...

    reader in UAE.

    11:23 pm  
    Blogger Life Out East said...

    Thanks again for your comments and I'm in full agreement with what you say. Once again, please don't think that I'm in anyway labelling the whole global Islamic community as terrorists, that's not the case.

    The reason for my interest - other than liking Islamic art and really wanting to go to Iran - are that I've known some really good Muslim friends who seem to have a much better take on what the true meaning of Islam is than the image sold by idiots like Bin Laden. I suspect that they, like you, are right.

    From my point of view, as an outsider, it seems that what is probably a very interesting and compassionate belief system is being sadly and very unjustly skewed by deranged people with a completely different agenda.

    9:05 am  

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