Ross rails that Gestapo style methods of interrogation are used by the sharia police in Aceh.
Editor's Note - this post was written on 30th December 2008.
Not much of 2008 left, but even up through the year's dying days, goat-bearded Islamonazis managed to bring their religion into further disrepute.
This, my final rail before Hogmanay, refers to last week's Jakarta Post report on the arrest of two teachers in Aceh - their "offence"? An invitation to some Muslim youngsters to share seasonal goodwill at a Christmas party!
In Meulaboh, West Aceh, two teachers were questioned by the sharia police for allegedly proselytizing their Muslim students by inviting them to a Christmas celebration at their homes.
The teachers were later allowed to return to their hometowns in neighboring North Sumatra to celebrate Christmas with their families.
Please don't exculpate the goons by telling me this "sinister" pair were let off with a serious talking to and then released - I'm sure Russians in the dark age between 1917 and 1989 who got taken to Lubianka and let off with a warning did not take many risks thereafter. Similarly if you were made to listen to a minatory sermon from the Gestapo in Germany between 1933 and 1945.
Such police state "interrogation only" tactics are likely to be just as effective a tool of oppression as an actual beating, especially in a benighted Islamist dump where beatings for trivial pursuits (and I suppose the death penalty for conscientious rejection of the offending faith?) are part of what passes for a legal system. Only the boldest guru will dare chance such ecumenical courtesy again.
Having from my earliest months in Indonesia admired Achenese determination to stand up against a bullying regime down south that denied their right to self-determination (this sympathy of mine being explained by my own ethnic origins, and given fictional form in my "Red-Handed in Aceh") I had hoped that on attaining a measure of freedom in its ethnic sense, the provincial authorities might extend the concept to permit individual and in particular religious freedom within their scope of control.
Instead, the "sharia police" continue to stomp on both common sense and common decency. Cowardly masked bigots administer legal whippings on courting teenagers and card-playing working men for doing what they do in every non-demented country, and now there is even talk of segregating tourists on a bikini beach, lest the sight of bule navels provoke devout Muslims to frenzies of lust. Talk about lunatics running the asylum.
I had imagined that Jakarta's adherence to such documents as the UN Charter, or more recently the impressive ASEAN declaration on democracy, might have had some actual meaning, other than for big-wigs to strut their stuff on the international stage. But evidently not.
To the oppressed people of Aceh, and to all readers, may the New Year bring something better than what they have at present.
P.S. I see various dedicated Islamists are volunteering to go to Palestine and fight the Israeli military - can we hope that the FPI, who proved their martial valour at the Battle of Monas, easily defeating outnumbered women and children, and that Islamic Solidarity Group, who heroically routed non-violent Ahmadiyah villagers, will go forth to do their bit. We'd soon see the elimination - bloodily - of much of Indonesia's street thuggery problem.