Centrist political leaders, young and old, criticise religion based laws.
In a discussion entitled "Youth Nationalism in the Era of Globalisation", in Jakarta on 24th August attended by chairman of Partai Demokrat (PD), Anas Urbaningrum, chairman of the youth wing of Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan (PDI-P), Maruarar Sirait, Melki Lakalena from the religion wing of Golkar, and secretary general of Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa (PKB), Yenny Wahid, as well as Universitas Indonesia (UI) lecturer Effendy Gazali, Islam-based sharia laws came in for some criticism.
Anas Urbaningrum, former leader of Himpunan Mahasiswa Islam (HMI), claimed that the local laws based on Islam in some parts of the country (perhaps like in Padang and South Sulawesi) were merely political plays, that they used religion as a cover for political ends and did not reflect the substance, spirit or values of Islam.
Anas described this as "political identity" gone out of control and said that if such laws employed the spirit of Islam, rather than simply using the religion as a cloak, then there would be no problem as they would then be simply a natural part of the country and its make-up, presumably given the fact that most people in Indonesia are Muslim.
The solution to the problem was to ensure that Muslims had a better, much deeper understanding of their religion, he said.
Don't try to force things using religion as a cover, because it won't win support.
Maruarar Sirait of the youth wing of PDI-P said the religious laws came about because the government was weak and he urged young people to develop a different kind of nationalism, one that was presumably not connected to religion.
Meanwhile the lovely Yenny Wahid of PKB said religious laws used the symbolism of Islam only, the package, but not the inside, the meaning. This produced resistance from various quarters all over the country. She said laws that forced women to wear the headscarf (like in Aceh) produced in reaction laws in other places (perhaps like in Manokwari, Papua, one, two) forbidding the wearing of headscarfs.
Melki Lakalena of Golkar, who is from East Nusa Tenggara, complained that the central government was not doing enough to deal with the problematic laws. As long as Indonesia got all hot and bothered by symbolic matters the country would remain backward and at the mercy of stronger foreign powers.
Indonesia is not capable of competing in south-east Asia, and the problems of the people are neglected because of these [irrelevant] things.
Meanwhile the recent appointment of the governor of Central Java, Mardiyanto, to the position of Home Affairs minister, has raised hopes among some that the problematic laws will be centrally reviewed and annulled.
Hidayat Bassalman of a state administrative institute says that people of military background, like Mardiyanto, tend to put the interests of national unity above sectarian ones, and that Mardiyanto will prevent the splitting up of the country into enclaves. suarapembaruan
Vice-president Jusuf Kalla yet again voiced his contempt for religious laws at a meeting of the East Java Nahdlatul Ulama on 30th August, claiming that regents and mayors who enacted laws that required sharia observance were insulting God.
Local Islamic laws reduce Islam and sharia to a lower level, insult God, and offend clerics