August 16, 2015


Indonesia's Secret: In the Kingdom of Gentle Islam : Nowhere in the world are there more Muslims living in one place than in the Southeast Asian island nation of Indonesia, which will be a guest of honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair this fall. Can a cosmopolitan faith assert itself against Islam? A journey. (Erich Follath, 8/15/15, Der Spiegel)

He rocks, in the truest sense of the word. He plays bass guitar and is both a fan and friend of Metallica. Early in the morning, or sometimes late at night, he likes to spontaneously go out and mingle among the people. He listens to the problems of the poorest living in the slums, promising them swift relief. Indonesia's President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, 54, is a pious Muslim who doesn't speak publicly about his faith. "That's private," he says. His countrymen call him "Jokowi Superstar." For many, he is a source of inspiration and hope.

Few politicians have had such a career. Jokowi was born a carpenter's son and went on to become a forestry student and furniture dealer. Indeed, his humble beginnings make him something of a phenomenon in a country dominated by wealthy families and the military. His first public office was as mayor of his provincial hometown of Surakarta, followed by his great leap to the governor's office in Jakarta. In October 2014, he was elected president of Indonesia.
The country he leads is a leading global economy, a member of the G-20 and boasts more than 250 million inhabitants. Only China, India and the United States have more people. But there's something else about this country that leaves the world in awe: No other country in the world has as many Muslims as Indonesia. Almost 90 percent of the population follows Islam -- more than in the Maghreb, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states combined.

There have, to be sure, been sporadic attacks by Islamist fanatics, the worst leaving more than 200 people dead on the vacation island of Bali in 2002. There are also signs of growing Islamization: The sale of alcohol has been restricted and headscarves are becoming more prevalent. Since 2009, however, there have been no more major attacks. News of Islamic State terror sounds like it's from another world. The Islam of the Far East is proof that the strict rules of the Koran and the freedoms of democratic society are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

...most of the world's Muslims live in democracies.

Posted by at August 16, 2015 8:27 AM

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