Hundreds of members of the Islamic Defenders Front, a radical Muslim organization rabidly opposed to homosexuality, stormed the Dutch Cultural Center in Jakarta, Indonesia on Tuesday ripping down posters advertising upcoming gay/lesbian films scheduled to be shown during the annual Q Film Festival.
The Islamic Defenders Front has been successful at bullying some of the festival’s hosts into cancelling their Q Film events, including the Goethe Institute German Cultural Center and the Japan Foundation Center. Organizers of Q Film Festival stated that they will attempt to continue with activities despite the threats and intimidation.
This incident isn’t the first time that the radical Islamic Defenders Front has pushed its agenda at the gay and lesbian community in Indonesia. Earlier this year, The International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) had planned to hold its Asia conference in Java. However, protests by Muslim groups, including the Islamic Defenders Front, forced conference organizers to cancel the event. The ILGA conference was booked at the Grand Mercure Hotel in the city of Surabaya, the second largest city in Indonesia. City officials had initially granted permission for the ILGA event but when about 60 protesters from the Islamic Defenders Front and the Islamic Communication Forum surrounded the hotel, the police recommended cancellation.
Indonesia is generally considered a moderate Muslim nation by political pundits. Yet look at what is considered moderate here. In 2002, the Indonesia government allowed several of its provinces to enact Islamic Sharia law for all Muslim citizens within those provinces. Since 2002, 52 regions within the country have enacted criminal penalties for homosexual activity using the precepts of Sharia law as their justification.
Indonesia, like all predominately Muslim countries today, is a powder keg of seething religious sentiments and anti-Western malice. It certainly isn’t moving in the direction of tolerance. But of course, us spoiled Americans must learn that ‘tolerance’ is a one-way street and that respect for human life is a ‘relative’ notion. It’s only us old-fashioned and out-of-touch reactionaries who harbor the silly concept that proclaims human life as a universal value no matter what the culture, no matter what the religion, no matter what the economic status of its people. A very quaint and curious ethos that struggles for survival in this 21st century mosh pit of competing mindsets.