Full disclosure: This was an ARC (Advanced Readers’ Copy) given to me through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers’ program. In exchange, I agreed to give an honest review.
“Mosque is not a good word. It is like mosquito. It is taken from the Mexican language. You know we do not like mosquito. This is deeply propaganda …”
Herry Nurdi to Sadanand Dhume (p. 136)
Herry Nurdi has a lot of “secret information,” he uses to bolster his claims; political, economic and ideological.
Things are starting to feel more coherent to me now. As I read, the struggles of Indonesia becomes eerily familiar. Indonesia’s story could be any non-Western country’s story. The search for identity as demonstrated by the many competing influences of historical tradition, politics, religion, etc.
In this story, as in so many others, the lack of educations and knowledge really is the heart of the problem. At least to me. Poverty, abject poverty, and the need to belong to some group which can offer comfort in any small way, even if that way is a better life in the next, keeps people going.
If the group offering you comfort derides Western values and education, you will accept that as reality. It’s a skewed reality to outsiders, maybe even other Indonesians, but it’s the one which gives you comfort and helps you survive another day.
My Friend the Fanatic is filled with ridiculous quotes like the one above. In the second hundred pages, Dhume and Nurdi have left Java and are traveling through Sulawesi, Borneo, Riau, and The Moluccas. I’m reading about a country still trying to throw off the influence of Dutch imperialism and find a way to truly develop an independent style of politics and culture which can encompass everyone.
The dictatorship of Suharto and Sukharno have also left their marks. Into this vacuum, militant groups have stepped in. The Muslim extremists are just one set of groups.