Hard-Line Strain of Islam Gains Ground in Indonesia, World’s Largest Muslim Country

Hard-Line Strain of Islam Gains Ground in Indonesia, World’s Largest Muslim Country, by Ben Otto.

The biggest street protest in years shook this sprawling capital on Friday in a stark display of the more conservative, militant strain of Islam taking hold in the world’s largest Muslim country.

Police said an estimated 100,000 people turned out for a rally called by hard-line Muslim groups against the capital’s Christian governor, whom they accuse of having committed blasphemy. …

President Joko Widodo had met with other political leaders amid calls for calm, but critics say he has been too slow since taking office in 2014 to respond to worsening tension for fear of being labeled anti-Muslim.

In a recent interview, Mr. Widodo said religious and political leaders had a responsibility to “cool temperatures down,” and he vowed to protect minorities.

“We are one of the most tolerant countries in the world,’’ Mr. Widodo told The Wall Street Journal. “My government won’t tolerate any discrimination.” …

“Religiosity is rising, especially among the middle class,” said Yon Machmudi, an Islamic politics expert at the University of Indonesia. “A sense of identification is increasing.’’

Nearly 90% of Indonesia’s 250 million people are Muslim.

The Southeast Asian nation — some 18,000 islands straddling the Pacific and Indian oceans — has a long tradition of moderate Islam in a culture influenced earlier by Hinduism and Buddhism.

But the tenor has changed in recent years. Head scarves for women, once rare, are now widely worn and Islamic schools are expanding. …

A movement to ban alcohol is gaining steam and sales have been banned from convenience stores. Travel to Mecca for the minor pilgrimage of umrah, once a relatively uncommon undertaking for middle-class Indonesians, is newly popular.

UPDATE: Evidence of the dangerous worldwide Islamic reformation, by Lion of the Blogosphere.

Islam is undergoing a reformation much like the Protestant Reformation, and just as the printing press was the key technology which unlocked the Protestant Reformation, the key technology this time is the Internet. The true meaning of the Koran and the Hadith is spreading, and unfortunately, the true meaning (based on an unbiased literal meaning of the texts) is very similar to what ISIS believes.