It is far too early to say that Indonesia is working. Growling Muslim extremists — including the loathsome Jemaah Islamiyah, the boys who brought you the Bali bomb — gained nearly 40 per cent of the vote in the spring elections. The madrasahs continue to spew out their bilge every day, indoctrinating a new generation of Indonesians with monotheistic authoritarianism. Right now, the government is sort of secular. How long will that last?
Malaysia is the only Muslim country in the world with a tradition of democracy, albeit democracy of a somewhat paternalistic kind. However, it is a democracy in spite of Islam rather than because of it. The country has been economically dependent upon the 35 per cent of its population which is not Muslim — notably the Chinese and the Indians and, to a lesser extent, the Christians of Sarawak — and so there are safeguards and concessions to protect this sizeable and vital minority. It is largely these safeguards and, it has to be said, strong and clever leadership from Mahathir Mohamad until last November that have preserved democracy in Kuala Lumpur against every stone-age impulse from the mullahs. Neither of these qualifying conditions exist in the Middle East: there are neither the talented political leaders, nor the moderating influence of a large non-Muslim population.
Some would argue that Turkey has a stronger tradition of democracy than Malaysia. Though in Turkey the military has been playing the role of guard rails that keep the politicians from going too far toward Islamization. If the Turkish attempt to get into the European Union continues to weaken the power of the military then those guard rails will continue to decay and Islamists may eventually push the Turkish government in a far more religious direction.
Liddle relates the recent story of 4 Malays who announced they were no longer Muslims and who were arrested and thrown in jail for not acting like proper Muslims. If you are curious to know more about their case here are some links about their case. These ex-Muslims tried to argue that since they were no longer Muslims the Muslim Syariah court could no longer exercise jurisdiction over them as Muslims. The Federal Court was not amused.
The Federal Court this morning dismissed an appeal by four individuals who had renounced Islam in 1998, for a declaration that they have absolute right and freedom to practise the religion of their choice.
The four - Daud Mamat, 62, Kamariah Ali, 51, her husband, Mohamad Ya, 57 (now deceased) and Mad Yacob Ismail, 62 - had also wanted the court to declare that the Syariah Court had no jurisdiction over them in view of the fact that they had renounced Islam.
For an account of how these people were treated after renouncing Islam see this article.
In some areas, such as Brickfields in Kuala Lumpur, one can find mosques next to churches next to Indian and Buddhist temples. But non-Muslims still live in a country whose new Islamic-themed administrative capital houses a prominent mosque but no other house of worship; a country that since the early 1980s has become increasingly Islamized - inspired first by the Iranian Revolution and Mahathir's former charismatic deputy Anwar Ibrahim, who founded ABIM and joined Malaysia's most powerful political party, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) in the 1980s; and then by government attempts to out-Islamize the hardline Parti Islam seMalaysia (PAS).
There is not an Islamic government in the world that has a democracy that looks solid.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2004 August 01 02:29 AM Civilizations Clash Of|