Indonesia is a rich and beautiful country but, as everyone knows, it’s blighted from time to time by floods, earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. It’s also blighted by incompetent leaders like Ramli Mansur, who do more damage than all the natural disasters combined.
Ramli is the 46-year-old chief of the Aceh Party in West Aceh district of Aceh province, where he has successfully campaigned for Islamic (sharia) by-laws against women including a ban on tight trousers. His district is witnessing the most virulent outbreak of a sharia virus that is infecting parts of Indonesia. Traditional values of tolerance, pluralism and moderation are being eroded in the name of radical religious dogma espoused by provincial dullards like Ramli.
Public floggings are held in Aceh and sharia police roam the streets looking for adulterers, gamblers, boozers, kissers, huggers, hand-holders and women in tight pants. This is what former rebels like Ramli have done with the autonomy the province won through its long separatist war. There are also stoning laws on the province’s books, although none has been carried out.
Such ideas aren’t confined to conservative Aceh; there are similar by-laws across the mainly Muslim country of 240 million people, fuelling nagging concerns about “creeping fundamentalism” and Islamic extremism.
Political analyst Bahtiar Effendy told The Jakarta Globe that Ramli was just one example of the “incompetent leadership” that is afflicting Indonesia, supposedly the world’s third biggest democracy.
“It’s not just him — many of our local and national leaders are basically incompetent, which is why they come up with foolish policies,” he said.
To see just how incompetent Ramli and others like him are, check out his comments about women and rape:
When women don’t dress according to shariah law, they’re asking to get raped. It’s a fact that men go wild when they see a woman’s breasts and thighs. It arouses them.
Sadly, Ramli isn’t the only one in Aceh to think women are to blame for rape. Some Acehnese women agree, including one who works in the field of women’s rights.
Ramli has plenty more to say about the evils of pants. The garments are on the front line of cosmic battle between good and evil:
It’s … stated in the Koran that if a woman imitates a man (by wearing pants), then she will spend 500 years in solitude before she ever gets to heaven.The same goes for men. For instance, men are forbidden from wearing earrings. If you do that, you’ve challenged Allah. It’s my obligation as a leader to help the people so they won’t suffer in the afterlife.
He also says religion is more important than health and education (although he is living proof of the fallacy of this argument) and that anyone who opposes him is a blasphemer and apostate:
If you’re against it, you’re blaspheming. The law gives you guidance for your own safety. If you choose to be a Muslim then you have to follow the law. The opposition to it is supported by Zionism, a devious form of infiltration by foreigners under the guise of freedom of expression. People don’t follow their religion anymore in this country. If you think the bylaw is too harsh, then you should get out (of Islam).
The very last comment might be the only sensible thing he said.
(Photo courtesy of Indonesian Defence Ministry)