Indonesia may be the largest Muslim country in the planet, but its general take on Islam could not be further apart from the bogeyman image it has become in the West. For example, you still see little sidewalk restaurants open at noon time during the fasting month, you have girls here who sometimes wear the Muslim veil, sometimes don't - depending on whether it fits with their daily outfit or not...
On the other hand, Malaysia (aka Indonesia's archenemy), has been experiencing a worrying islamization of its public life since the late 80's - worrying, because it creates a malaise within its important non-Muslim minorities.
I was struck by two parallel news on the issue today. On one hand, we have the PAS, a conservative Muslim party that controls one of Malaysia's northern states. On the other, we have Gus Dur, one of Indonesia's former president; today, he heads one of the two main Muslim organization in the country which, with its 40-something million members that including most of the islamic schools, might be one of the largest in the world.
Today an Islamic court in Malaysia has condemned 4 Muslim men to 7 days in jail for having taken part in a beauty pageant for transvestites. The same day, Gus Dur announced that he accepted to become one of the official counselor for an Indonesia transvestite organization.
Gotta love the contrast :-)
Another example of the relaxation of Indonesia's Islam can be seen in this picture, taken in Jakarta's Istiqlal mosque, the biggest in Southeast Asia. If you go there on Friday right after the biggest prayer, you'll find a lot of men just taking a little nap: one of the favorite activity in this type of climate at this hour of the day, and far more comfortable to be done here than at the office or while sitting in Parliament.