Thursday, May 05, 2011
Ossie, Ossie, Ossie?
Burdened by an insatiable curiousity and too much time on my hands, last night I ventured to witness the rally held in honour of Osama bin Laden at the Islamic Defenders' Front (FPI - Front Pembela Islam) facility.
The FPI have a reputation for hardline religious values on a swathe of moral and social issues (see the Wikipedia listing for the history), so it's little surprise they would leap on the bin Laden death as a cause célèbre.
At the rally, my lack of Bahasa Indonesia language skills only put me at a marginal disadvantage - much of the evening was spent shouting condemnation of Barack Obama, the United States, Israel, and even on one occasion, Australia. Meanwhile any mention of bin Laden was met with rousing cheers. And all was followed by folksongs, though thankfully we were spared Kumbaya
It was the usual rah-rah ranting and raving to the true believers, who in this case numbered about a thousand and were overwhelmingly male.
I went along because I was curious to see just how vehement and widespread ran the sympathy for religious fundamentalism in Indonesia. The reality is that in this little pocket, the anger runs deep - but there is no reason to think that it is reflective of the wider population.
For the most part, Indonesians are the victims of terror rather than the perpetrators. Though many might share a religion in common with bin laden, they see him and his band of merry terrorists as impediments to achieving a decent life rather than a help.