Selamat Idul Fitri!
Idul Fitri is the Muslim equivalent of Christmas, and it starts tomorrow. It's the end of Ramadhan, a whole month in which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. In fact, as I type, I hear the constant sound of fireworks and excited Indonesians screaming into loudspeakers outside on the street. Not shockingly, some of these explosives look a little shady. And considering my 11th floor hotel room is one of the tallest spots in the city, I'm staring them all in the face.
Anyway, something rather interesting to note is that Indonesian Muslims didn't know until today WHEN they would be celebrating their biggest holiday; they just knew it would be sometime in the next few days. This is a completely foreign concept to me. (Pun!) I guess it has to do with coordinating the lunar calendar and the approval of the government. So they literally found out today that tomorrow is their biggest holiday. I can just imagine if we in the US found out when Christmas was on Christmas Eve. Regardless, I seem to be the only one who's confused by this. Everyone else is out in the street with a bottle rocket and bull horn.
Aceh and Stoning Laws
In the honors humanities classes I took my freshman year, our professors always stressed how important it is to use our "lenses" when we're trying to understand the lives of people who are very different than we are. Basically, that means not judging something or someone as wrong or ridiculous because it's so different from the way we think now. I suppose this same concept should apply to Aceh's government's latest attempt to sentence all adulterers to public stoning, but it's awfully hard to even understand what they're trying to do.
In a nutshell, the outgoing government in Banda Aceh (like Bahnd-uh Atch-uh) is trying to sneak through this stoning law before they're out of office. Only, they aren't sneaking it through at all because everyone is upset about it. Under the new law, married adulterers would be stoned 100 times or until they died and unmarried adulterers would be caned up to 100 times. And here's a catch: adulterers can only be women.
It also categorizes homosexuality and public displays of affection as crimes. To be fair, most of Indonesia is very opposed to the ordinance, and hopefully, it will never actually become a law.
Here's a really good opinion column about a 13-year-old girl who was sentenced to death because she was raped by a married man:
Aceh is at the very top of Sumatra, many hours away from Palembang but still on the same island. The Jakarta Post also featured a great editorial about the issue, saying that a law like this would only set back the country as a whole, which has come so far politically in the last decade.
And here's one of the craziest parts to me, and I am TRYING to not to just look at this as a Western feminist-- at the top of the front page, there's a section offering readers a chance to "Text your say" to "Aceh's Stoning Bylaw." Really? We can use our cell phones to text opinions to our online and print newspaper... and we're still stoning people?
I officially have less than a week left in Bandung before I head to Palembang. So imagine my excitement when this fun little headline is splashed across the page: Haze Forces Airport Closure in Palembang.
Forest fires around Palembang have made the air so polluted that officials are literally handing out masks to people on the street as they drive by. All the pollution in the air is causing respiratory infections, eye and skin irritation, and diarrhea. Luckily, I think I'll be a little bit outside of the city.
Well, this post didn't end up being a happy one, did it? Whoopsie. I promise I'll have more stories with a much more positive outlook on life in Indo coming up very soon.