Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Indonesia's backlash against Saudi-style Islam

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The beheading of Ruyati binti Satubi - an Indonesian maid executed by Saudi authorities in June for the killing of an allegedly abusive Saudi employer - has stirred such revulsion in Indonesia that Islamic leaders there are openly challenging the harsh, Wahhabist creed of Islam that has gained a footing in Indonesia via the funding of religious schools.

A story by the Washington Post's Indonesia correspondent illustrates the depth of this backlash.

"Some Indonesians began to think that Wahhabism is the true teaching of Islam, but thanks to God, there has been a change of thinking," said Siraj, who heads Nahdlatul Ulama, an organization with about 50 million members and 28,000 Islamic boarding schools.

The beheading, which triggered protests outside the Saudi Embassy and elsewhere, "has had a good influence" by accelerating a backlash against harsh imported strains of Islam, Siraj said.

"Mecca is a holy place, but the people who live there are very uncivilized," said the executed maid's daughter, Een Nuraeni, who prays regularly and wears a veil pulled tightly over her hair. "There is nothing in Islamic law that says you can torture or rape your housemaid."

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Michael Shannon

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