Yesterday there was a demonstration in Jakarta – one more. A few hundred of students from the main universities gathered in front of the Constitutional Court, singing and chanting “Allahu Akbar” ("God is the greatest"). Well, what do you think? A bunch of bearded extremists whose sabers tingled with the desire to shed some of my Western blood? Think again.
Those kids were just protesting against the film Fitna that they judge insulting to their religion. (Just in case you’ve missed the news reports, Fitna is a Qu’ran-bashing documentary recently released by the Dutch politician Geert Wilders, whose main claim to glory is to have given racism a place in his national Parliament). They were sporting banners claiming “Islam is not fear”, “Islam = Love” or “If you take pieces of a book, what do you get? Pieces of information. If you take pieces of the Qu’ran, what do you get? Pieces of misunderstanding”.
The last one is my personal favorite, because if you live in Indonesia and you don’t want to succumb to the latest fad (running around scared of the “green fascism”) you quickly get really, really annoyed by the Muslim-bashing competition we see coming from the West.
I’m not a Muslim; actually, I don’t follow any religion. But I do understand the students who were protesting yesterday. Granted, there are extremists in Indonesia; they proved it this week when they choked themselves yelling their hate at the Dutch consulates and embassy here. Granted, too, there are passages in the Qu’ran that are quite chilling, and that’s what makes the Fitna documentary so efficient for the narrow-minded who’re willing to condemn a whole religion without bothering to try to get to know it.
But in my humble opinion, I doubt the hate potential of individual passages is the privilege of the Qu'ran. Check out this funny clip from the American TV show “West Wing” if you want a glimpse of what a Fitna film dedicated to the Bible could look like.