American pulls plug on noisy mosque in Indonesia

A minaret in Jakarta

An American man has been arrested in Indonesia for allegedly pulling the plug on his local mosque. He faces five years in jail for blasphemy but I think he deserves a medal. He’s an instant legend in my private Hall of Fame.

Every non-Muslim, and probably most Muslims, who have ever lived near a mosque have fantasized at least once about marching in and kicking the plug out of the wall during the call to prayer.

I live near a particularly irritating mosque with a muezzin who sounds like a 12-year-old child. The noise – and that’s all it is – regularly forces me to close my windows no matter how hot it is inside. At least I don’t hear it at night, so my sleep isn’t disturbed. I’d move if that was the case.

Even so I’ve fantasized about writing a letter to the mosque asking them to turn down the loudspeaker. I’ve even caught myself daydreaming about knocking the speaker off the building before slipping away into the night like a cat.

I know I’m not the only one; my friends joke about it all the time.

But we would never act out our fantasies, no matter how much we feel our rights to peace and quiet are being abused. We are timid people, easily silenced by the religious majority in this mainly Muslim country.

And we’re afraid of the blasphemy law, or of being physically attacked by a mob of Islamic extremists who roam Indonesia’s streets with almost total impunity – to the horror of non-Muslims and moderate Muslims alike.

Not so Luke Gregory Lloyd.

The 64-year-old allegedly walked into a mosque on Lombok island on the night of August 22, berated the worshippers for keeping him awake and pulled the plug on the loudspeaker. That it was Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, and the people were in the middle of a nightly reading of the Koran seemed to matter not a jot to Mr Lloyd, according to police.

He apparently escaped a beating but the police caught up with him almost instantly and he’s been in custody at a hotel in Lombok ever since. Under Indonesia’s draconian blasphemy laws he could face five years in jail.

More likely he’ll be thrown out of the country – police also allege that his visa expired in 2006.

That would be a shame, because by all reports he has given a lot to the community around Kuta beach, Lombok, where he owned a guesthouse, the Kuta Beach Hideaway.

Kuta beach, Lombok

Assuming there’s only one American guesthouse owner by the name of Lloyd in Kuta, the alleged blasphemer is the same man identified as Greg Luke in this travel blog. It says he has a young son.

Greg is a very generous guy – always giving away medicine when local people drop by who are ill, supplying local people with potable water, making me a guest in his home as his contribution to improving local schools.  His bungalow has the most beautiful view in Kuta Beach. Travelers to Kuta Beach should … help support a guy who truly gives it all back to the Sasak people.

Could be a case of “Lord Jim” syndrome, after the Conrad character who washes up as a European castaway somewhere in Indonesia. Conrad’s Jim falls in love with the ease and beauty of local village life but stays a little too long.

(Photo of Lombok courtesy of Fadil Basymeleh via flickr)

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2 responses to “American pulls plug on noisy mosque in Indonesia

  1. I enjoyed your comparison, which I read back in High School, but had to look up on the net to recall the details. Exactly right, I have fallen in love with the local village life, if for no other reason than the culture is remarkably different than what I had known living in a developed country most of my life.
    The local people loved hearing stories about America. Thanks to the Internet and my knowledge of chemistry, I was able to find and buy medicines to cure many diseases that normally would have been left to fester. Even malaria is easy to cure if the symptoms are recognized at an early stage.
    I guess it is also true that I stayed too long. Because the culture is so complex and primitive, it was almost inevitable that one day I would unknowingly step on one of their customs that proved to be my undoing.
    Quite honestly my wide variety of experiences on Lombok, both good and bad, were far my exciting than growing old in an old -folks home playing checkers in the US. No regrets whatsoever.
    BTW, I enjoy your blog. Perhaps I will someday commit time to putting my random thoughts into writing as you are doing.

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