Allah is not on-line

The following column was published in Eesti Ekspress, 23.01.2011


The upper class of the country with the largest Muslim population in the world seems to be confused with the modern world gadgets.
In Indonesia, where porn laws criminalizing the female body and where children wear veils even in swimming classes,  the decadent potential hides itself behind a technological curtain. It lives in top notch mobile phones and gathers its strength on Facebook walls.

Namely, about 2/3 of the Internet users in Indonesia have moved to Facebook, thus it’s the second biggest population on Facebook after the USA – 29.4 million accounts all together. Five per cent of the people on Facebook live in Indonesia. In Indonesia Facebook is the site that receives the most clicks, it outpaces both Yahoo and Google. Such popularity is connected with the availability of smart phones. Home Internet is slow and expensive and only the rich can afford owning a pc. So, huge proportion of e-communication is carried out using mobile phones. It’s not rare that service providers offer free Facebook access.

Facebook also opens doors to those worlds the conservative citizens see as vicious. The law says that a public French kiss could take you to prison for five years, and on social level women marrying while still virgin are still highly valued. Sex workers are called “immoral women” here (wanita tuna susila; why not to call sex buyers immoral men?), and “getting control over women” was supported by president Soeharto’s authoritarian “New Order” regime for years (1966-1998).
But now Facebook and other virtues of the Internet revolutionize in the spheres the Allah’s eye doesn’t reach. For example, the following four phenomena on the web remarkably infringe the moral code of Islam.

Firstly, flirting. In Indonesia it’s not easy to play with the opposite gender in public. Every little sign brings along bustle among curious Indonesians, and in public places there’s nowhere to court your loved one. So, a big part of flirting has moved online where the social rules of the earthly world seem not to valid any more.

Secondly, posing. Girls, who when walking in streets follow the discreet Islam fashion, reveal their real beauty in Facebook galleries.

Thirdly, gambling. Even this “deadly sin” gets itself going on Facebook. Poker has become number one entertainment for Indonesian boys.

Fourthly, porn. Once in a local bar an old man from the next table handed me his awesome smart-phone. “Only 16!” he excitedly commented a porn video on the tiny screen. He had tens and tens of clips like that. When to look where the most of 3gp porn videos suitable for phones are uploaded the answer is Indonesia. Lately there was a media scandal about celebrity sex videos that had leaked on the Internet, and that according to the porn law would take them to prison for years.

Islam hardliners are trying to fight against the huge Internet wave, they refer to “moral”, to “god’s will” and they demand content limitations for the Internet. But of course sex is binding and when all that’s erotic is covered with veils they happily move to the Internet. Even a well-known Indonesian feminist Julia Suryakusuma has repeatedly said that Actually Indonesians are very sensual and erotic. But when sexual education is insufficient (sexual education isn’t a part of formal curriculum in Indonesia, there are taboos and myths surrounding sex) no one can be sure where does this huge wave take the Indonesian youth.