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    Tuesday, March 21, 2006

    Even Mother Teresa threatens muslims

    Albania's largest Muslim group said Monday that placing a bust of Mother Teresa in a northern city would not damage religious harmony, rejecting claims from smaller Muslim associations.

    The Culture Ministry's proposal to put a statue at the entrance to Shkodra, 110 kilometres north of the capital, Tirana, was opposed the day before by three small Muslim associations.

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    Representatives of the Charity Islamic Association, Islamic Intellectuals and Albanian Muslim Forum opposed the bust, saying the religious situation in Shkodra was "not so calm" and the bust was a provocation. They said a cross in a nearby area was vandalized in January.


    I must remember that no form of government, even democracy, is satisfactory for serious muslims. In their view, all forms of government except their old religious code called "sharia" must fade away eventually. That is why their governments of whatever form are so screwy and scary to Christians.


    link

    Indonesia is a democratic, secular country, and there is no constitutional basis for using Islamic law in court in most regions. But insulting a religion is a crime, and a fatwa, or religious edict, issued by the Council of Ulemas can carry great weight as evidence of an alleged offense to Islam.


    Indonesia, which has more than 190 million Muslims, the world's largest Islamic population, has become increasingly conservative since the 1998 collapse of President Suharto's military regime. In recent years, the government has grown more active in enforcing religious law.


    In recent months, fatwas issued by the Indonesian Council of Ulemas and its regional councils denouncing clerics and cults as deviant have been followed by arrests, prosecution and sometimes mob violence against the accused.

    The Indonesian Council of Ulemas, which is made up of 43 Muslim scholars and leaders of major Islamic organizations, was formed in 1975 to guide Muslims on how to live in accordance with Islamic principles. Muslims make up more than 85% of the nation's population.


    The council has recently issued fatwas banning women from leading prayers if a man is present and prohibiting Muslims from praying alongside members of other religions. Provincial and local branches of the council also have issued numerous fatwas regulating Islamic practices.


    Ma'ruf Amin, a vice chairman of the Indonesian Council of Ulemas and the chairman of its fatwa committee, says the ulemas' role is to define proper behavior for Muslims and to set boundaries that protect the purity of Islam.


    He denies that the ulemas are promoting hatred, and says Muslims who engage in deviant practices are bringing violence upon themselves.

    Bringing "violence upon themselves"... is that not what the Nazi's said of the Jews?

    Yusman Roy, a former boxer and a convert to Islam, is serving two years in prison because he believes that Muslims should pray in a language they can understand.

    Roy, who led bilingual prayer sessions at his small East Java boarding school, is seen as a heretic by conservative Muslims here. They believe true prayer can be conducted only in Arabic.

    Roy's desire to pray in Indonesian has sparked such an outrage that he was convicted last year in criminal court of "spreading hatred." Animosity toward Roy ran so high that police posted guards to keep an angry mob from torching his house and school.

    Sumardi Tappaya, 60, a high school religious teacher on the island of Sulawesi, was locked up in January after a relative told police he had heard Sumardi whistling while he prayed. The whistling was declared deviant by the local ulemas, and Sumardi is now in jail awaiting trial on charges of religious blasphemy. He faces five years in prison.

    Ardhi Husain, 50, who ran an Islamic center in East Java that treated drug addiction and cancer with traditional medicine and prayer, was sentenced in September to five years in prison for writing a book that the ulemas said contained 70 "errors," such as claiming that Muhammad was not the last prophet and that non-Muslims could go to heaven. Five editors of the book also received five-year terms. An employee who sold a copy to a neighbor received three years.

    After Husain's arrest, a mob burned down his facility. No one has been arrested in the attack.

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