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Islamic hardliners force closure of LGBT conference in Indonesia.
March 29, 2010 1:36 AM   Subscribe

LGBT conference forcibly shut down by hardline Islamists. Last Friday, in Surabaya, Indonesia, a mob of 150 occupied the hotel where an ILGA-Asia conference was taking place.

According to the secretary-general of the International Lesbian and Gay Association, Renato Sabbadini, “The mob invaded the lobby of the hotel and would not leave unless the police and the hotel management would guarantee that our conference would not go forward… Later that evening, mob members conducted a floor-by-floor sweep of the hotel, going to the rooms of conference participants to make sure they had left.”

Ironically, the venue had been chosen "because of its atmosphere of tolerance."

Earlier, the Surabaya police refused to grant a permit for the conference, "citing fears of protests from religious groups".
posted by micketymoc (27 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
So, what exactly is the difference between the terms "Muslim" and "Islamist", save for the latter's frequent appearance in racist and anti-Islamic hate speech?
posted by kafziel at 2:03 AM on March 29, 2010


I hope you're not suggesting that covering homophobic bigotry by some Muslim groups is racist, kafziel.
posted by rodgerd at 2:08 AM on March 29, 2010


"Islamist" refers to the use of Islam as a political movement. Which is not applicable to all Indonesian Muslims (in fact the prevailing brand of Islam in Indonesia is comparatively tolerant), but certainly applies to the hardliner organizations that forced the ILGA out of the hotel. One of the mob's organizers, the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), has a record of violent tactics and a "long history of attacking Indonesian LGBT people".
posted by micketymoc at 2:14 AM on March 29, 2010 [8 favorites]


So, what exactly is the difference between the terms "Muslim" and "Islamist",

Maybe it's the same as the difference between "Christian" and "Dominionist"? Coz those later folk have a similar attitude to their "Islamist" pals. I wish people used that term more often.
posted by Jimbob at 2:15 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I hope you're not suggesting that covering homophobic bigotry by some Muslim groups is racist, kafziel.

No, I'm just saying that generally, when I see someone talking about "Islamists", it's not being used to mean the equivalent of Dominionist, it's being used as a slightly less obvious version of towelhead. I was wondering if it was actually a meaningful distinction in this story, which apparently it is.
posted by kafziel at 2:18 AM on March 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


I was wondering if it was actually a meaningful distinction in this story, which apparently it is.

I understand what you're saying, kafziel. When I see the term "Islamist" used by bitter pyjama-clad bloggers, yes, they're being racist. In this case, given that we're talking about an absolute minority element within a massive Muslim country, the term is probably being used fairly appropriately.
posted by Jimbob at 2:21 AM on March 29, 2010


I wonder if these groups are against girl-girl action or girl-girl-on-boy(old man?) action?
posted by porpoise at 2:51 AM on March 29, 2010


From the third link: “By Friday evening, when the occupation of the hotel continued, we saw both the police and the hotel’s managers chatting amiably with the mob leaders, who were being served dinner by white-gloved waiters,” he said.

I'd be really interested to hear a statement from the Accor hotel group about why I should ever stay in one of their hotels again.
posted by creeky at 2:58 AM on March 29, 2010 [16 favorites]


The strength of feeling that people can muster about others' private lives is truly remarkable.

See? I did it. I promised myself I wouldn't use profanity to denigrate these self-righteous childish bullying assholes.

whoops
posted by Salvor Hardin at 4:32 AM on March 29, 2010


I was wondering if it was actually a meaningful distinction in this story

No, you weren't.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 5:44 AM on March 29, 2010


No, you weren't.

And you know this how, exactly? Because I've wondered the same thing myself.
posted by magstheaxe at 5:54 AM on March 29, 2010


Interesting, kafziel, I see the use of the word "Islamist" as being the less anti-Islamic term.

Compare and contrast:

Michelle Malkin: who uses the adjective "Muslim" for pretty much any terrorist, and refers to the people behind the recent subway bombings as "Chechen Muslims". Malkin is a hardline anti-Muslim bigot. The language she uses (along with her ilk) attempts to tar all Muslims with the brush of extremism.

Andrew Sullivan: who carefully distinguishes between "Muslims" and "Islamists" (also "Christians" and "Christianists"). Sullivan, while he supported the war in Iraq, goes to great lengths to maintain respect for Islam in his writing.

I think that in general, "Islamist" is the currently accepted politically-correct term for any person who wields Islam as a political philosophy. You can have peaceful Islamists or violent Islamists.

This is distinct from "terrorism" -- terrorism is a tactic of war. You can have Islamist terrorists or Christianist terrorists (e.g. Scott Roeder).
posted by xthlc at 5:58 AM on March 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


There are religious groups with closed memberships. A cental authority states who is a member, and only those members may claim they are members.

Many relgions do nt operate that way. A person is a member if they say they are. For this reason, I call people the name they call themselves. If a good or ill deed is done by that relgious person then I still call them the name they call themselves.

I've never seen anyone call themselves an Islamist.
posted by eccnineten at 6:46 AM on March 29, 2010


>> From the third link: “By Friday evening, when the occupation of the hotel continued, we saw both the police and the hotel’s managers chatting amiably with the mob leaders, who were being served dinner by white-gloved waiters,” he said.
> I'd be really interested to hear a statement from the Accor hotel group about why I should ever stay in one of their hotels again.

I wasn't too perturbed by that; without further context, I would have said that they were trying to pacify a mob from getting too violent. Issue management; give them mobs a taste of your brand, and they'll walk away.

The following, though, is simply unacceptable, and not for moral reasons; they've basically undermined a basic rule of security, that of privacy:
“The rule of law was basically suspended during the occupation by the Islamists, and both the police and the hotel management gave in completely to the demands of the mob’s leaders, who threatened to call in reinforcements if their demands were not met,” he added. “The hotel management even went so far as to give a complete list of the conference participants staying in the hotel to the mob.

“Later that evening, mob members conducted a floor-by-floor sweep of the hotel, going to the rooms of conference participants to make sure they had left.”
I'm not just disgusted by them, but also am _scared_ to ever stay in an Accor hotel.
posted by the cydonian at 7:01 AM on March 29, 2010 [8 favorites]


Yeah, xthlc is right. Kafziel, if you see no difference between "Muslim" and "Islamist," then you're criticizing Islam in general. Those who criticize "Islamists" are criticizing not Islam in general but only certain Muslims.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:08 AM on March 29, 2010


I sent the Accor group a message about this: "Why do you expect that anyone would ever stay in your hotels again?"

I mean, really. Politeness is one thing; ratting our your guests to an angry mob is quite another.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:32 AM on March 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


eccnineten: "I've never seen anyone call themselves an Islamist"

That's very true, and I agree that in general it is far, far preferable to simply call people what they would like to be called.

However, in my opinion1, most who seek the imposition of government by religious authority deliberately ascribe their own interpretation of their religion to that of the faithful as a whole. After all, it's God's Law, and by definition if if you believe in God you believe in his Law. Therefore, they call themselves Christians or Muslims instead of Christianists or Islamists.

I think it's quite important to distinguish the two for purposes of discussion, particularly when one opposes one philosophy but supports or tolerates the other.

[1] ...which should be taken with a grain of salt, of course, since I'm vehemently opposed to any integration of religion and government.2
[2] ...although I'm sympathetic to some forms of religious statism in certain contexts, eg. the early days of the Islamic Courts Union in Somalia. Many Muslims see sharia as a welcome alternative to corrupt warlordism - it metes out justice at a basic level and enables society to function.
posted by xthlc at 7:51 AM on March 29, 2010


I mean, really. Politeness is one thing; ratting our your guests to an angry mob is quite another.

Here is a list of hotel brands to avoid. Looks like their main brand in the US is motel 6, and so I'll be avoiding that one, and telling my friends to avoid it as well. I'll say "don't stay at Motel 6 friend, they give information about gay and lesbian customers to lynch mobs and terrorist groups."
posted by fuq at 8:28 AM on March 29, 2010 [14 favorites]


I propose a simple solution: let's just call them all, Dominionist or Islamicist, assholes.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:07 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would much rather use Islamist and Xianist to separate the impose-my-beliefs-on-you crazies from the Muslims and Christians, most of whom I don't really pay attention to but don't feel like are trying to imprison, strip away rights from, or kill me.

If others can't handle that distinction, then what terms do they suggest I use to keep from lumping the assholes in with those who simply follow a religion?
posted by hippybear at 9:37 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why not just call them the Indonesian Tea Party?
posted by shii at 10:45 AM on March 29, 2010


Cool! An FPP with The Jakarta Post.. Jakarta's best english-language "rag." I've been to Jakarta twice; last time I was there (2008), the government was trying to ban "tomboys" AKA "girls who wear pants"... I was amused by the seemingly quaint nature of the labels, but obviously the underlying implication was pretty um..fucked up? Banning lesbians? hahah! They were also trying to crack down on porno. As if!

Jakarta is way more progressive as far as Indonesian cities go, and I was only there for a short time, enough to experience the forward-thinking open-minded cultural side of things. There were many short-haired, pants-wearing, queer and proud, outspoken activists who demand equality in Indonesia.

As an interesting side note: there is a community of transexuals who banded together in Jakarta and do makeup/costumes for artistic productions. Both times I visited, this huge group of like 10 trannies would be doing ALL of the backstage work for the actors and singers. Never seen anything like that before!
posted by ReeMonster at 11:16 AM on March 29, 2010


I find it a little hard to blame the hotel operators. Sure, descriptions of management hobnobbing with angry bigots mere hours after the confrontation took place seems craven, but a) is the company as a whole really responsible for the decisions of the manager in that particular place and b) if you were that manager, how do you balance your commercial and ethical integrity with the manifest possibility of your employees and other guests being attacked or killed?

I'm not giving them a pass, but I am much more offended by the police, whose job it is to enforce the rule of law impartially. Let's be honest, how many people pursue a career in the hospitality industry with the expectation of having to deal with a mob of violent religious fanatics? Hotel workers don't take an oath to extend hospitality to all, at the cost of their lives if necessary. And I certainly don't think you can automatically pass the blame up the corporate chain, as if their employee manual said 'it's totally cool to sell out guests who happen to be minorities hurr hurr'. What should the corporate managment have done, called up Obama and requested a drone strike on the fundie mob?

Now, police officers do take their jobs with the understanding that they might confront mortal danger as part of their duties. They do have the option of immediately summoning civil resources in defense of the law and the citizenry. They do have the authority to meet threats of force with promises of greater force. And they do have training in the basic dynamics of violent confrontation. There is no excuse for their failure to bring the situation under control.

In short, it's a cowardly response by the hotel operators, especially sharing the names of the erstwhile guests. But do we really expect hoteliers to die in defense of a hotel booking, when the police are present but decline to assist? Would a Mumbai-style massacre have been a better outcome?
posted by anigbrowl at 11:50 AM on March 29, 2010


Ann Coulter knows just how this feels. Poor Ann.

she always looks like she could use a hamburger
posted by five fresh fish at 8:53 PM on March 29, 2010


ReeMonster: I know Malaysian clerics were planning to ban tomboys/girls-with-pants in 2008; you sure you're not getting your countries mixed up?
posted by divabat at 11:09 PM on March 29, 2010


yes diva your'e right, sorry.. that's what the situation was.. but I just remembered reading about it in Jakarta.. all the same the issue is very important for the surrounding nations and so is closely watched, it seems..
posted by ReeMonster at 12:00 AM on March 30, 2010


Well, I find this a perfectly fine reason to make a policy of avoiding Accor properties. Easy for me to say, I haven't stayed with them in years anyway. However, my partner has a conference coming up in a couple weeks, and what-do-you-know, an Accor hotel was booked.

Since the management was sharing guest information with the mob, I'm urging him to see if he can force a change in hotels. It's a small enough group. Folks working for American corporations are sensitive to security issues.
posted by Goofyy at 7:18 AM on March 31, 2010


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