Stories about Indonesia

Can Shahid Khaqan Abbasi #BringZulfiqarHome so he can spend his remaining few days with his family?

“We are not final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only because we are final.” – Robert Houghwout Jackson Conflicting interests and balancing human rights with state laws lie at the heart of the sentencing process. Judges may arrive at decisions based on either restrictive or broader interpretation of laws. Hence, the plight of terminally ill prisoners can only be resolved by having concrete laws and policies formulated to create exceptions to cases like that of the Pakistani death row prisoner in Indonesia, Zulfiqar Ali who is suffering from chronic liver and Diabetes Mellitus. Ali was taken into custody in 2004 on drug-related charges. ...

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If Xi Jinping wants China to be accepted as a global leader, he needs to revise his aggressive diplomacy

The anointment of President Xi Jinping as the ‘core leader’ in the recently concluded 19th Chinese Communist Party congress, and by enshrining his thoughts on “Socialism with Chinese characteristics in a new era” in the party’s constitution, Jinping has elevated himself to the exalted status of Chairman Mao Zedong. Like the Little Red Book, Jinping’s thoughts have now been made compulsory reading for Chinese students, government officials and party functionaries. Jinping, before the convention of the congress, where his elevation was a foregone conclusion, had systematically purged all his potential rivals. His Machiavellian statecraft had ensured that he had a vice-like grip over the party. Added ...

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With no medical reasons or links to religion, why are women still being circumcised?

Africa and certain parts of the Arab world are not the only places where the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) prevails, as Indonesia is currently on the hot seat for allowing female circumcision on girls as young as one-year-old.  On March 27th, a disheartening video of an Indonesian toddler surfaced which shook people around the world. In the said video, Salsa Djafar is shown decorated in a crown with ribbons and shiny clothes, ready to be circumcised. The video is not to be watched by the faint-hearted as it truly captures the pain of the little baby girl while ...

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Can we blame the West for thinking of Muslims as they do?

In recent times, religiously motivated terrorism incidents have taken place in the West, from Brussels to New York. Due to these barbaric acts perpetuated by extremists, ordinary Muslims are also facing excessive backlash in Europe as well as in the United States. We, as Muslims, are correct to complain that it is unfair to bracket ordinary Muslims with the extremists, but at the same time we need to understand that our negative reputation is not merely due to organisations like ISIS but also because of our behaviour in general. I am not trying to equate extremist organisations like ISIS with normal and moderate Muslims here, ...

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Would you be able to sleep at night knowing your daughter is being subjected to violence at that very moment?

The recent murder cases of Samia Shahid and Qandeel Baloch, both victims of ‘honour killing,’ put yet another question mark on our resolve to fight violence against women. Such cases also serve to rejuvenate the controversial debate that societies tend to tolerate violence against women which, in turn, leads to more violence against women. For me, before being acquainted with data on countries where such beliefs persist, it was unimaginable that some women think domestic violence is acceptable. I think most readers would be surprised to know that wife beating, the most common form of domestic violence, is not just a norm in most countries, but also found acceptable ...

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Bhutto’s economic policies were disastrous for Pakistan

In his article published in the May edition of Newsline, an independent monthly news magazine, economic journalist, Muhammad Ziauddin, says “a levelling phase” began in Pakistan with the advent of the Bhutto era, which forced the “22 families to flee the country with their loot.” He adds that the “phase of levelling inequality” was cut short quickly by General Zia and a new phase of cornering the wealth of the nation by a few hundred was launched. He and other left-of-centre writers like to glorify the Bhutto regime – why else would anyone call the six years of economic ruin and destruction “a levelling phase”? I recently spent some ...

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Will the Muslim women in India find protection in the courts?

One may accuse Trupti Desai’s symbolic entry to the Haji Ali Dargah, Mumbai, and her earlier attempt to enter the Shani Shingnapur temple, as a well thought out publicity stunt highlighting her political intentions. However, one has to grant her and her organisation, Bhumata Ranrangini Brigade, due credit for their gumption to take on religious clerics and other religious organisations. Her determination resulted in the decadent old custom that prevented women from entering places of worship, into the public domain. It is indeed a sad commentary that even after 69 years of India’s independence; Indian women have to fight for their rights. Women have to constantly fight ...

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If I look like a boy and walk like a boy, why can’t I be a girl?

While I found private buses very easy on my pocket, I hadn’t travelled in one for over a year, even though I would travel in it all the time while I was in university. I had started noticing something strange. We all know what goes on in buses; but this was different. I realised that people were talking about my gender; they weren’t sure if I was a woman or a man. For instance, once when I was going back home from work and had to take a bus, the female compartment was almost empty so I availed the opportunity and hopped on the ...

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Donald Trump as US president would trump rationality and tolerance

The distinction between the religious right-of-centre and the loony religious right is more pronounced in the west as compared to India and Pakistan, where the difference is usually a blur. An example of this is David Cameron referring to anti-Muslim bigots engaging in violent hate crimes. He said this amounts to them being no different to jihadists. The conventional interpretation about endorsing a holy war against evils within oneself or an armed struggle in case of violation of one’s rights against the specific aggressors only after peaceful modes of conflict resolution have now been exhausted. Furthermore, former Muslims’ endorsing violent interpretations should not ...

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In beauty is a wound, Eka Kurniawan proves that he is the literary heir to Salman Rushdie and Garcia Marquez

Every once in a while a novelist surfaces on the literary landscape from a bookishly dormant and reclusive country, whose literature has been ignored and underrepresented in the Western literary consciousness for far too long, and takes the entire book world by storm. Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie from Nigeria, Han Kang from South Korea, Yuri Herrera from Mexico, Aminatta Forna from Sierra Leon and Porochista Khakpour from Iran are a just a few contemporary examples. And now, Eka Kurniawan, a young and precocious Indonesian novelist, is a thrilling new discovery and an exciting addition to the list. In Kurniawan, Indonesia has, at ...

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