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March 11, 2006

Muslim Extremists Begin Provoking Moderates To Push Back?

I've often wondered how intensely the majority of the Islamic world really feels about hardcore fundamentalist Islam. In our own country, no politician could ever be elected if he advocated repealing laws against consensual private sodomy, even though almost all of us think such laws are, ahem, pure ass. There's just no constituency willing to openly advocate for such a repeal, so the minority who favor such laws win by default.

It's the idea of falsified preferences again -- people falisfy their true preferences because they believe those preferences to be socially unacceptable or they believe it would be futile to agitate in favor of those preferences (because they believe, erroneously, they are in a decided minority). But a preference cascade -- a swift change in expressed preferences from the falsified one to the true one -- can happen when people finally get angry enough to speak out, letting others know they're not alone.

In other words, sometimes people just go along with silly shit. Until the shit gets too silly.

It's heartening that in Indonesia some people may finally have had it:

Islamic hardliners demanding the introduction of austere sharia-style laws are pushing secular-minded Indonesians too far and risk triggering a backlash and even "slaughter", one of the country's leading intellectuals warned.

The editor of the respected Tempo newsmagazine, Bambang Harymurti, likened the danger to the 1965 anti-communist bloodbath which some say left up to one million people dead.

A fierce debate over sweeping anti-pornography and morality laws that are backed by Islamic parties in the parliament have infuriated the vast majority of moderate Indonesian Muslims.

There have even been threats of secession in mainly-Hindu Bali and Christian-dominated Papua province.

Balinese leaders have warned bikini-clad foreign tourists could be arrested if the laws are enforced.

Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim nation but has largely shunned strict Islamic ways seen in the Middle East.

"People are angry, they are up to the neck, but they are afraid of them because they are militant and they are numbering hundreds, sometimes thousands," Harymurti said of the morality campaigners.

"But because they've created such bad will for a few years, when suddenly the tables turn, people are more than ready to basically slaughter."

Indonesia's parliament, which contains a large bloc of Islamic-based MPs, is debating whether to amend the criminal code to outlaw anything that could offend decency or "arouse lust" in children.

That includes husbands and wives kissing in public, unmarried couples living together and homosexual sex, along with any flash of thighs, navels, bottoms or breasts, punishable by up to 10 years in jail and fines of more than $A100,000.

There has to be some permissible route to sexual gratification. In most cultures, marriage is pretty much that. If you're married, you're allowed to be sexually active. But parts of Islam appear to see even that as sinful. For crying out loud, some Imams have even issued fatwas against husbands and wives seeing eachother naked during sex. A culture has to allow some route by which people can finally be frickin' left alone, or else there are going to be problems.

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posted by Ace at 12:35 PM

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