A much more conservative vibe in the capital

Irshad Manji has been getting some unwelcome attention in Indonesia.

During a discussion and an event to launch her latest book, Allah, Liberty and Love, at Salihara in South Jakarta last Friday, she said she sensed “a much more conservative vibe” in the capital.

As if on cue, Manji had barely finished her opening talk when a police officer announced that the event had to be postponed partly due to protests from local residents and hardline groups.

Minutes later, shouts of disapproval from those claiming to be local residents were heard. The discussion was cut short formally and Manji had to be escorted out of the venue.

Manji faced more protests from various groups during her next few days in the country with the largest Muslim population in the world.

Hundreds of members of the Indonesian Mujahidin Council (MMI) attacked the LKiS publishing office in Yogyakarta where she was speaking about her book on Wednesday night.

Because they don’t want no stinkin’ liberty & love along with their Allah.

The Trouble with Islam Today, which addresses issues such as alleged animosity towards Jews and inferiority of women in some Muslim-dominated societies, and calls for Muslims to be more critical of their own community, was, according to Manji, driven by anger.

“That anger was real … and it needed to be expressed at least for me. But in the last 10 years as I have been engaging with people like you all over the world, my own anger has been replaced with aspiration. I now believe that we shouldn’t just expose the corruption. That we can strive for better and that we can, as the Koran tells us, change ourselves in order to change the condition of our society,” Manji said to the audience at the Salihara discussion, which was mostly composed of young people.

That’s nice, but it’s not just the Koran that tells us that.

I know Manji knows that. I know she says it to make the point that changing ourselves and the condition of society are compatible with the Koran. But still – it’s not just the Koran that tells us that.