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Blogger Indonesia of the Week (39): Arief Prasetyo

Blogger Indonesia of the Week (39): Arief Prasetyo

Self-Reflection of an Indonesian Muslim

A lot of words being said for or against Islam and Muslim by the so-called experts, Muslims or non-Muslims. Particularly concerning the current phenomena of terrorism and the use of violence carried out by Muslims in the West or in Muslim countries.

The trends of analysis or commentaries are while non-Muslims tend to sharpen their attacks and criticisms against Islam and Muslims, Muslim experts or non-expert tend to be apologetic and defensive. The result of the on-going debates are predictable: no result of reconciliation in sight. Yet, the attacks and counter-attacks are still going on.For me, as I regularly say, any degradation of values in a particular community should be dealt with and analysed thoroughly by the enlightened personalities within the community; while the outsiders in this point of time should see and make a commentary on it with care and sense of empathy. A sympathetic approach on the part of outsiders and a comprehensive analysis followed by impartial implementation by the insiders will make things better.

On the part of Islam and Muslims, therefore, sharp criticism or condemnation should not be done by non-Muslim; it should be started from within against which the critics real purpose of improving the social degradation of a particular society will not come into reality. On the other hand, it will be seen by many as an attack which need to be counter-attacked. And that’s precisely what happens in Indonesia when some Christians criticise Muslims or Islam for certain bad things happen in the country; or Muslims lament the so-called christanization of Indonesia by evangelists, etc.

In this context, the self-criticism by Arief Prasetyo, himself is a Muslim, is a good step in the right direction.

In one of his post, for example, he condemned the suicide bombers and those Indonesians who support it:

How is suicide bombings justifiable? Justified by religion? In who’s eyes? Indonesia is a plural country with many religions. Although 85% of the entire population are muslims, I think that the majority of it live their lives in very moderate ways. However I do think that everyone in the country should help to promote peace and go against these suicide bombings and terrorism.

For the respondents who support the bombings (or say that it can be justified for whatever reason), I can’t wait until one of these bombs kills someone you love. Then I’d like to know how your opinion REALLY is about this.

On the Prophet Muhammad cartoon controversy, although he disagree with the irresponsible attitude on the part of the Danish newspaper, he equally criticise Muslims who turned into vandalism as a respons. He said,

However angry the moslems are, I think that violent and brutal ways of protesting and demonstrations goes beyond the line. The moslems sure will react… but I think this is way too much. The burning and destruction of public places, vandalism does not do and will never do any good on the moslem’s part. How can anyone ever believe that Islam is a peaceful teaching, while we show such rage and uncontrollable anger.

On the current Playboy Indonesia controversy, however, his opinion might not please a plethora of pro-Playboy. He’s unequivocally opposed it with a big no-no:

In the traditional Indonesian culture, sexual desire is something that is kept very secret and taboo to talk about. Islamic teachings also commands that muslims control their sexual desires and not be easily aroused.

Now other people may see it as art or high quality journalism. That may be. But for me, I think the reason why people buy Playboy (and alike), is its pornographic content. As long as the magazine falls into the hands of its market target, fine by me. The thing is I don’t yet believe in law and regulation enforcement in Indonesia.

I think that freedom of expression is limited by other people’s rights. When others are “disturbed” by one’s freedom of expression, perhaps one should look again whether one is still “just expressing one’s self” or “starting to disturb others”.
I say NO to Playboy Indonesia (and magazines alike). It just doesn’t feel right.

You might be agree or disagree with whatever Arief says in his posts, but one thing you must acknowledge about him is his sharp thinking, good and logical commentaries. His fondness of reading books must have contributed a lot on his good writings and arguments. And that’s why most of his postings make a good reading.[]

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